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Looking back on COVID in 2021: 'We got the science right' but politics and social science intervened

Zoe Nassimoff, of Argentina, looks at white flags that are part of artist Suzanne Brennan Firstenberg's temporary art installation, "In America: Remember," in remembrance of Americans who have died of COVID-19, on the National Mall in Washington. Nassimoff's grandparent who lived in Florida died from COVID-19. (Brynn Anderson/AP)
Zoe Nassimoff, of Argentina, looks at white flags that are part of artist Suzanne Brennan Firstenberg's temporary art installation, "In America: Remember," in remembrance of Americans who have died of COVID-19, on the National Mall in Washington. Nassimoff's grandparent who lived in Florida died from COVID-19. (Brynn Anderson/AP)

Let’s go back for a moment to January of 2021. Public health officials released what were then startling numbers: Nearly 25 million Americans had contracted COVID-19 and an American died of the disease every 30 seconds.

The total deaths back then? 339,000 Americans. And newly elected President Biden was full of optimism. His plan was to get 100 million shots delivered in his first 100 days.

Well, that part of the plan succeeded, but as the second year of the pandemic comes to a close, the death toll has more than doubled to over 800,000. And omicron is changing the COVID landscape yet again.

So what did we achieve in 2021? And where are we now? Host Scott Tong talks to Ashish Jha, dean of Brown University’s School of Public Health, about COVID-19 in 2021.

This article was originally published on WBUR.org.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.