Opinion | Coronavirus Gloom, and Rays of Hope

To the Editor:

“Vaccine Is Over 90% Effective, Pfizer’s Early Data Says” (front page, Nov. 10) represents a great day for science and those who dedicate their life to research. Moreover, it demonstrates the importance of international collaboration and a global approach to scientific research and development.

Only by tapping into the intellectual capital of the very best minds in science can we solve global problems like a pandemic. It is worth noting that the scientists leading the research of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine are a couple of Turkish origin living in Germany, and that Dr. Albert Bourla, Pfizer’s C.E.O., is Greek and lives in the United States.

The New York Academy of Sciences has long advocated for recognition of the many positive effects of immigration, multiculturalism and transnational cooperation. This early breakthrough exemplifies the need for all of us to put science first, not a single nation. A global pandemic requires a global solution, a solution that in turn will be the best for the United States as well.

Nicholas Dirks
Berkeley, Calif.
The writer is president and chief executive of the New York Academy of Sciences.

To the Editor:

Eight months into the pandemic, I have been pondering the American public’s response to it. My country has lost its soul. For the country to refuse to take all measures to face this virus head on is tantamount to my parents’ generation deciding eight months into World War II that it was tired of all the sacrifice called for and insisting that we just declare a great victory and go home.

Our greatest strength was our determination to face adversity together and endure. Is that lost on us now?

Nancy Hughes
San Francisco

To the Editor:

Re “Holidays Must Look Different This Year” (editorial, Oct. 30):

Urging Americans to stay home this holiday season to mitigate further spread of Covid-19 makes total sense. And as you note, Zoom gatherings might “help keep families connected” and preserve some of the traditions.

As Thanksgiving approaches, I would go one step further and suggest that Zoom might even help preserve family harmony. Traditional holiday dinners can be fraught with strife. Think of the frantic food shopping added to a busy work schedule; the festering resentments that can surface among adult siblings; the critical eye recording who brought Costco as opposed to cooking from scratch; or the thought of getting stuck next to your least favorite relative, who is still asking if you have found a job or when you are going to start a family.

From a distance, frictions might dissipate. Unlike so many families that have been torn apart by loss this year, all of us might just get to relax and to appreciate the simple fact that we are all still together — muting and unmuting, but survivors in a year that has been extremely difficult for just about everyone.

Cathy Bernard
New York

To the Editor:

Re “Poorest Struggle as Virus Rattles Life on Campus” (front page, Oct. 13):

I’m deeply concerned by the number of low-income college students dropping out amid the pandemic.

As president of the Horatio Alger Association, a nonprofit providing college scholarships to young people overcoming adversities, I’ve seen firsthand how challenging this pandemic has been for low-income students. We’ve spoken with students who can’t afford Wi-Fi to take online classes or who have gone days without meals because their parents lost their jobs. When campuses closed abruptly, some scholars were sleeping in cars because their families were homeless.

In April, we launched an emergency support program to address these urgent needs. We’ve disbursed hundreds of thousands of dollars in funding to assist with food, shelter, medical bills and learning resources so that our scholars can remain in school.

Low-income students need support now more than ever. I urge businesses and nonprofits to contribute in any way possible — whether providing hot spots or housing — because these individuals have bright futures and deserve every opportunity to graduate from college.

James F. Dicke II
New Bremen, Ohio

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