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Coronavirus, pandemic, COVID-19, masks — we hear these terms every day. In a time when our nation is divided socially, economically and politically, this pandemic is a collective experience from which no one is immune. And yet, we are facing the challenge and making progress toward a day when these terms are part of history, not part of our daily lives. “I feel with the proper precautions, that this is manageable,” a member of the Addison County community said in response to a recent online survey. “I don’t mind changing my habits to be able to survive this pandemic and keep both myself and...
To understand how COVID-19 impacts our lives, we must first address the basics of the virus that causes it — what it is, what it looks like, how it attacks our bodies, and how our immune system fights back. The novel coronavirus, also known as SARS-CoV-2, is the specific virus that causes the disease COVID-19, which was first identified in late 2019. The name “coronavirus” refers to the virus’s structure: It has spikes that protrude off its surface, making it look like a crown. There are many different types of coronavirus, including the common cold and SARS-CoV, a similar coronavirus that...

Photo by Daniel Schludi/Unsplash
In a survey our biochemistry class distributed, we asked Addison County residents to share their concerns about COVID-19 vaccines. Interestingly, 57% of the 349 respondents indicated that a vaccine would not be effective at ending the pandemic because not enough people will get the vaccine. When asked whether or not they would get the vaccine, 58% of the respondents said yes, 32% were not sure, and 10% said they would not get a vaccine. Are numbers like these sufficient to end the pandemic, if applied on a global scale? When an individual is vaccinated and becomes immune to a virus, the virus...
COVID-19 can spread in many different ways. It can transmit from person to person both directly and indirectly. It can also transmit from animals to humans and from humans to animals. SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19) was likely first transmitted to humans either directly or indirectly from Rhinolophus horseshoe bats. Research has shown that a virus present in these bats shares close genetic similarity with SARS-CoV-2. Regardless of the exact origins, we know that an ancestral virus evolved over time into SARS-CoV-2, a virus capable of infecting human hosts. From the initial spread...
VERGENNES — A grant-funded Main Street sidewalk project that Vergennes officials have long said will better help link the city’s downtown with its Otter Creek basin area and public docks is back on track after a summer controversy. The proposed 400-foot sidewalk would run along the north side of Main Street from Macdonough Drive to what officials call the Riverwalk, just short of the Otter Creek bridge. That path in turn leads to a stairway next to the falls that winds down to the east side of the river basin. The sidewalk’s addition will mean that pedestrians who want to reach the basin — or...

THE JOURNAL NATURE depicted the two new types of nucleic acid vaccines: DNA and RNA. The FDA-approved vaccines for COVID-19 are RNA vaccines. This diagram shows that the vaccine injects RNA genetic material that enters our cells, where it is translated into proteins. Antibodies formed in response to these viral proteins bind to coronavirus cells upon attack, which helps activate our immune system. Courtesy of Nature.com and originally published this year in an article by Ewen Callaway at www.nature.com/articles/d41586-020-01221-y
COVID-19 has led scientists to search for the right vaccine that will help us end this pandemic. The newest forms of vaccines are being developed meticulously, informed by centuries of vaccine research, and have shown great promise. While all the scientific news may seem overwhelming, it’s important to note that vaccines have long aided our fight in eradicating diseases, among them smallpox and polio. All vaccines introduce viral components or “antigens” to our immune system, and in response we produce antibodies. Binding of the antibodies to the antigens can both block a virus from infecting...

MISSY HOLLAND OF Bristol feels that the COVID-19 pandemic has taken away the ability to act spontaneously, but she has adjusted. Recently she drove through parts of Vermont she hadn't previously seen and enjoyed having a new experience, something the pandemic has made difficult to find.
Missy Holland, like most Vermonters, has been spending time at home in Bristol during the COVID-19 pandemic, navigating the world of virtual interaction over Zoom and finding time to walk with friends (physically distanced and masked, of course). A retired higher education administrator and a trustee of the Rokeby Museum in Ferrisburgh, Holland has called Vermont her home for the past 10 years, although she still travels to New York City, where she also has a home. Her interest in being interviewed for this project on the COVID-19 pandemic stems from wanting to help students complete projects...
Racism is a belief system that cannot be completely eradicated. Although many institutions, public health administration, racial justice organizations, and individuals work to take actions against racism, it is still prevalent in the United States. And this year, we, as a country, took a step back from creating a safe and fair environment for the people of color (POCs). Innumerable incidents this year resulting from the pandemic illustrate that racism is still a serious issue in the United States. Because the origin of the coronavirus was China, the stereotype developed that Asians and Asian-...
Students in a biochemistry course at Middlebury College, in developing the COVID and Community stories, developed and distributed a survey about COVID-19 in fall 2020. The survey was open from Oct. 29 through Nov. 17. They received responses from 349 participants. Below are aggregated data from the survey.   1) In what town in Addison County do you reside? 2) Rate your concern about COVID-19 on a scale of 1-10. 1 being not concerned and 10 being extremely concerned. 3) On a scale of 1 to 5 (1 being insufficient, 5 being excessive), rate the safety precautions (i.e., physical distancing,...
A COVID-19 vaccine is likely the most efficient way to fight the coronavirus pandemic and return to normalcy. However, vaccines typically require years of development before wide distribution. The fastest vaccine development prior to Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine was that for mumps, which took four years. The typical vaccine takes about a decade or longer (12 to 14 years). Researchers expedited development of a COVID-19 vaccine, so people can receive a vaccine as soon as possible. In light of concerns about the potential health risks of an accelerated vaccine, we hope to explain how vaccine can...

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