September 28, 2023

Life Without Masks: A Black woman helped with that

By: Roy Douglas Malonson

For all of you out there who are skeptical about taking a COVID-19 vaccine shot, did you know that a Black woman helped create the lifesaving Moderna vaccine? And with the latest announcement easing mask restrictions, aren’t you glad?

“Today is a great day for America,” President Joe Biden said during a Rose Garden address praising the exciting new guidance on masks.

The Centers for Disease Control announced Thursday that people fully-vaccinated against Covid-19 do not need to wear masks or practice social distancing indoors or outdoors, except under certain circumstances.

“If you are fully vaccinated, you can start doing the things that you had stopped doing because of the pandemic,” Dr. Rochelle Walensky said during a White House Covid-19 briefing. “We have all longed for this moment when we can get back to some sense of normalcy.”

Walensky said the long-awaited change is thanks to the millions of people who have gotten vaccinated and is based on the latest science about how well those shots are working.

Walensky cited three studies — one from Israel and two from the United States — that show vaccines work.

The Israeli study, which was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, showed the vaccine was 97% effective against symptomatic Covid-19 and 86% effective against asymptomatic infection in over 5,000 health care workers.

There have been reports of “breakthrough” infections among vaccinated people in the United States — a small number among more than 117 million people in the United States who are now fully vaccinated. Walensky noted that “the resulting infection is more likely to have a lower viral load, may be shorter in duration, and likely less risk of transmission to others.”

Walensky said the requirement to wear masks during travel — on buses, trains, planes and public transportation — still stands.


While there are many pioneers who can be credited with helping to bring this pandemic under control, we are very proud of Kizzmekia “Kizzy” Shanta Corbett, whom Dr. Anthony Fauci praises as being “right at the forefront of the development of the vaccine.”

Corbett is a viral immunologist at the Vaccine Research Center (VRC) at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health (NIAID NIH) based in Bethesda, Maryland. She earned a PhD in microbiology and immunology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC-Chapel Hill) in 2014. Appointed to the VRC in 2014, she is currently the scientific lead of the VRC’s Coronavirus Team, with research efforts aimed at propelling novel coronavirus vaccines, including a COVID-19 vaccine. In December 2020, the Institute’s Director, Dr. Anthony Fauci said during a forum hosted by the National Urban League: “The very vaccine that’s one of the two that has absolutely exquisite levels — 94 to 95% efficacy against clinical disease and almost 100% efficacy against serious disease that are shown to be clearly safe — that vaccine was actually developed in my institute’s vaccine research center by a team of scientists led by Dr. Barney Graham and his close colleague, Dr. Kizzmekia Corbett, or Kizzy Corbett.”

In February 2021, Corbett was highlighted in the Time’s “Time100 Next” list under the category of Innovators, with a profile written by Dr. Fauci. In the Time’s profile, Dr. Fauci wrote that Corbett’s work “will have a substantial impact on ending the worst respiratory-disease pandemic in more than 100 years.”

Corbett, who is only 34 years old, says she feels fighting the coronavirus is her “purpose,” and is on a mission to put an end to the virus that is disproportionately affecting African Americans and other minorities.

We need to take the vaccine in order to safely come out of this pandemic. We encourage you all to roll up your sleeves. The mask restriction so far has eased, time for us to do what we need to do to make it go away, once and for all.

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