American exceptionalism happens when the nation set its mind to something and uses the power of government to achieve it.
Last week, President Joe Biden announced a new goal of distributing 200 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccines during his first 100 days in office, double the original goal announced in January. About 2.5 million shots go into arms every day.
Almost 73% of those 65 and older have received at least one dose and 49% are fully protected, according to CDC data from Monday. Nursing home staffs, hospital employees, essential workers and teachers have quickly been adding to the total of 52.5 million Americans that are fully vaccinated.
It is not surprising that the United States is far ahead of the rest of the world in this task. History verifies that this nation has often exceeded low expectations when its massive physical, intellectual and organizational resources are organized in a single purpose.
The Trump administration deserves credit for focusing on discovery of a COVID-19 vaccine in record time. Scientists deserve credit for piggybacking on work already done and sharing research along the way. The Food and Drug Administration deserves credit for relaxing bureaucratic rules while insisting on scientific rigor. Even some drug companies deserve credit for joining forces to manufacture and push doses out to the public.
Europe is not inoculating people quickly enough to slow transmission of the virus, according to the World Health Organization. The European Union is neither experienced nor unified enough to serve as a powerful organizing and distributing force.
The pandemic will not end until the rest of the world catches up, and our own progress can be undone by treating public health as politics, not science.
In a year with so much gloom, however, it is encouraging to see that America can be exceptional when Americans pull together.
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