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Hello and welcome …

to Plugged In.

I’m Greta Van Susteren …

reporting from Washington.

Vaccinations are now underway...

here in the United States …

as the country’s death toll …

passed 300 thousand …

most of any other country.

Shipments of the vaccine ...

from Pfizer manufacturing plants …

rolled out …

to air freight distribution hubs …

across the country.

((VO/first vaccintion))

In New York state …

critical care nurse …

Sandra Lindsay ...

was the first …

in the US …

to be vaccinated.

Health care workers …

and the elderly ...

are first in line to receive...

the vaccine.

U.S. officials …

say they hope to vaccinate …

nearly 20 million people ...

by the end of December.

VOA correspondent ...

Michelle Quinn has details.


((INTRO: )) [[ In the United States, nearly three million doses of the nation’s first COVID-19 vaccine will be delivered this week to states to administer to high-risk health care workers as the nation’s death toll from the disease continues to rise. Michelle Quinn reports.]]


It’s a moment of hope in a dark time. Trucks begin rolling across the U.S. this week, delivering the first COVID-19 vaccine – 2.9 million doses – to states. The first recipients of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine?

High-risk health care workers and people who live and work in long-term care facilities.

The excitement at the beginning of the vaccination effort comes as U.S. cases of COVID-19 surge and deaths from COVID-19 approach a grim milestone. Nearly 300,000 people have died from the disease, according to the Johns Hopkins University.

One state that is struggling is New Jersey, which is seeing a surge of COVID-19 cases.

((Phil Murphy, Governor, New Jersey))
((mandatory cg ABC “This Week”))

“For all the good news, the light at the end of the tunnel, the vaccine exemplifies that as much as anything, the next number of weeks will be hell, I fear. We are begging with people; please, please don’t let your guard down.”


As the vaccinations begin, the Food and Drug Administration will consider emergency authorization of a COVID-19 vaccine from Moderna.

Public health officials are worried some people will balk at being vaccinated.

((Dr. Stephen Parodi, Permanente Medical Group at Kaiser Permanente))

((Courtesy: Skype))

“So, there are a lot of people out there that are hesitant to receive the vaccine for any number of reasons. So, I believe we've got to communicate the safety, the efficacy of these vaccines, the importance of what this means for us individually and for our global community.”


The United Nations secretary-general, Antonio Guterres, has warned of “vaccine nationalism,” which could leave poorer countries struggling to get the vaccine.

As countries feel pressure to shift resources for vaccines, there are other risks, says Chizoba Wonodi, Nigeria country director for the Johns Hopkins International Vaccine Access Center.

((Dr. Chizoba Wonodi, Johns Hopkins International Vaccine Access Center))

((Courtesy: Skype))
“And so, where is the money going to come from? That money is definitely going to displace health care spending for other things. And if you think about the burden of disease in developing countries, there is a lot of people actually asking questions about weighing the benefits of shifting funding to the vaccine versus other health care programs.”

Other COVID-19 vaccines are on the horizon. Still, health officials stress that vigilance against the infection has never been more important.

((Dr. Stephen Parodi, Permanente Medical Group at Kaiser Permanente))

((Courtesy: Skype))
“The vaccine gives us great hope for 2021, but this current surge of increased disease gives us great pause...We still have to adhere to those three W's, wash your hands, wear your mask and watch your distance.”

((Michelle Quinn, VOA NEWS))

[[ GRETA ]]

It is important to emphasize ...

that public health officials ...

say vaccines will not …

have an immediate impact …

on the rising infection rate.

In London …

pubs, restaurants …

and other public venues …

are closing …

and people are being asked …

to stay home …

as much as possible …

because of a spike …

in infections.

Great Britain …

was first in the West …

to approve the vaccine.

VOA’s Henry Ridgwell …

has more from London.



((INTRO)) [[Pressure is growing on the European Union to approve the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine after regulators in Britain, the United States and Canada gave the green light in recent days. Coronavirus cases are soaring across the continent, with extended lockdowns announced in Germany and the Netherlands. Henry Ridgwell reports.]]

Britain called it ‘V-day’ — or vaccination day — December 8, the start of its mass coronavirus vaccination program.

The rollout began in major hospitals and is now being expanded to local clinics. About 800,000 doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine are being distributed, with several million due before the end of December.

((Dr. Nikita Kanani, Medical Director for Primary Care, National Health Service))

“Less than a year ago, we were treating the first patient with COVID, and we are now able to give a vaccine. The team has been incredible.”

People over 80, the clinically vulnerable, and front-line health and nursing home staff are first in line. Doctors say by inoculating these vulnerable groups first, the pressure on hospital intensive care units will ease. So, how did Britain gain the head start? British regulators insist full safety checks were carried out.

((June Raine, CEO of Britain’s Medicines and Healthcare Regulatory Agency))

“There should be no doubt whatsoever that this is a very safe and highly effective vaccine. It will help us turn the corner.”

But in polls, half the British public have safety concerns over the vaccine. The World Health Organization says it is vital that governments communicate clearly.

((Soumya Swaminathan, WHO Chief Scientist (in English)))

“The more open and transparent we can be, the more likely it is that people will have the trust and the confidence and would not only want to take the vaccine but would also be patient and wait for their turn.”

With Britain, the United States and Canada having now approved the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, pressure is growing on the European Union to do the same. Approval is expected by the end of December.

((Angela Merkel, German Chancellor (in German)))

“We want to do this in a very coordinated fashion and show that everyone has the same kind of access.”

But that access will not be available to billions of people around the world. Aid agencies accuse rich countries of hoarding the vaccine.

((Anna Marriott, Health Policy Manager for Oxfam))

“Nine out of 10 people in poor countries are not going to receive a vaccine next year and possibly for years to come.”

Scientists say the world will not get back to normal until there is a global rollout of vaccinations.

((Dr. Sterghios Moschos, Molecular Biologist at University of Northumbria))

“Somewhere between 70 and 80% of the population worldwide will need now to be vaccinated.”

That would require billions of doses of vaccine and is likely to take many months or years.

((Henry Ridgwell, for VOA News, London.))


Britain and Europe …

face some unique …

distribution challenges.

I spoke to VOA’s …

Henry Ridgwell from London.


HR: Well the primary challenge really is the supply of the vaccine. We know that Britain was the first country to approve the Pfizer Biontech vaccine. It had initially ordered 40 million doses. The first batch includes 800,000 doses and they are here- they're in the country. We've got another 4 million that are due to be delivered before the end of the year. but we do know that Pfizer is having some production issues, just getting hold of those raw materials that are required to make this vaccine.

It's using genetic material that other vaccines haven't done in the past and keeping that and getting all that raw material together is proving a challenge that's number one. Now, for those vaccines that have arrived in the country, they have to be stored at minus 70 degrees throughout the entire storage and transportation chain. So, they are being taken, either by truck by refrigerated frozen truck from the production site which is in Belgium, across through the Euro tunnel into Dover, and then into storage sites at hospitals or in warehouses across the country.

GVS: Now we're expecting this week here in the United States that besides the Pfizer vaccine, the Moderna vaccine. Do you have any idea of when the Moderna vaccine? I assume that the MHRA which is your regulatory organization is going to rule on the Moderna?

HR: I don't know yet when the Moderna vaccine is going to be approved. We do know that the MHRA is using the same processes on both the Moderna vaccine and the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine that it did on the Pfizer Biontech vaccine in that the testing stages that safety approval process was done in tandem with the trial.

So the usual processes, the drug company will run a trial, the results will be produced, the regulatory bodies then go back and look at the data that has been produced, and then they will give approval and that process can normally take a couple of years at least. We know what the MHRA have done is they've been doing that approval process as the trial has been taking place, taking in the data in real time if you like. And they've been doing that not only with Pfizer but also with Moderna and Oxford AstraZeneca.

GVS: in our country the UK and USA are great friends but many Americans wondered how the UK beat us to okaying the Pfizer drug, how MHRA beat the FDA with the, got our nose a little out joint that you beat us.

HR: Yeah, it wasn't only you across the pond there as well, i think there has been a huge pressure on European governments as well to match the UK in their speed of approving this drug. but you would have seen in America as well as in Europe the government's there have said, “Look, this approval process is hugely important and we need to get this right.” If regulatory bodies got this wrong and there were adverse side effects, imagine what that would do to public trust in not only this vaccine, but any other vaccine, not only for the coronavirus, but other diseases that would be produced from here on in. so that's the argument of the regulatory bodies. The MHRA here in Britain says, “Well, this is the process we followed. Unlike other bodies we have done our approval process in tandem with the drug companies running the trials. We are 100% sure that our approval process is watertight in their words no corners, have been cut.”

GVS: here in the United States, we're all great fans of the queen. We all love the Queen too. Is she, has she spoken at all about the vaccine? is she getting the vaccine soon? she's an older woman but so she might be eligible a little sooner than most.

HR: well indeed she's in her 90s and going by the list of those eligible, she would be absolutely in the top group. so the top level of people is care home residents and carers and then number two is people who are over 80. so she should be offered the vaccine if she hasn't already before the end of the year. She and the royal family at large have not spoken yet about their intention or otherwise to take the vaccine. But one would have thought that she could play a key role in in persuading the public to do so that this is safe. Many scientists I've spoken to over the course of the past weeks or months see that figures in the public eye, and there is no greater figure in the public eye than the Queen here or perhaps around the world, can play a really huge role in in persuading people to do this, politicians, and all former Prime Ministers and, as in America, I think many former presidents have offered to take this vaccine live on camera and to be shown to be taking this. so I can see a key role here for the royal family, if they are keen to do so. Of course, they have been trying to keep somewhat out of the public eye in recent months with difficult times with with certain members of the royal family Prince Harry and Prince Andrew, among them and so perhaps this would be a way to step back into the public eye if you like, and play a very very positive role.

GVS: How about your prime minister? has he taken it, does he intend to take it publicly? you make reference to our former presidents, President Bush and President Clinton said they will do it on camera- they're over 65. President Obama likewise he is under 65 but what about your prime minister?

HR: He hasn't said he would do it live on camera, although he certainly has said he would he would take it as soon as he is eligible. I suppose what politicians want to avoid doing is to look like they're jumping the queue, by any means, but he has said that this vaccine is safe and that he will be keen to take it. You know it's interesting you speak to different people. My parents are both, you know, in those top groups as well to be eligible to take it, and for many many older people who have not perhaps seen their family for several months, for those residents of nursing homes who haven't hugged their family for so many months, isn't this a ray of hope a ray of sunshine that that might all soon be over, that they can see their families again and that's the case for millions, billions of people around the world. And it's going to be a difficult job for governments and global institutions like the World Health Organization to manage that expectation. And that was spoken of at a meeting this week in Geneva by the WHO about how you get people to be patient to wait their turn. They've got to fight that battle on the one hand, and then persuade those who don't want to take the vaccine to do so on the other hand. So you know we got over the major scientific challenges in producing these vaccines. The next big challenge is those social challenges of getting the administration of the vaccinations right.

GVS: Indeed, Henry thank you very much and if I don't talk to you before the New Year Happy New Year well I'm glad to get 2020 behind says I'm sure.

HR: Yeah, let's hope the new year brings good things.


Getting tested for COVID-19 ...

has proved to be challenging ...

with long lines at test sites ...

and frequently delayed results.

Now, several experts ...

who are trying to close …

the testing gap ...

say technology is creating ...

new breakthroughs …

In how we test …

for the virus.

VOA’s Matt Dibble ...

tells us more ...

from San Francisco.



((INTRO: ))

[[Getting a COVID test can mean long lines and delayed results. Matt Dibble looks into recent breakthroughs that may have more of us performing a test at home.]]

((NARRATOR)) ((B-ROLL: moving vaccine vials)) ((Mandatory courtesy: Pfizer Inc./AP 0:0:00 to 0:02:24))

Though COVID-19 vaccines are on the way,

((NARRATOR)) ((B-ROLL: unloading plane))

health experts are cautioning

((NARRATOR)) ((B-ROLL: long lines at testing site- 3 shots))

that the need for frequent COVID-19 testing will be with us for a long time.

((NARRATOR)) ((B-ROLL: long lines at testing sites))

Adequately testing the U.S. population has been a persistent challenge.

((NARRATOR)) ((B-ROLL: woman swabs nose in kitchen)) ((Courtesy: Lucira Health 0:16:16 -0:21:00))

Now there is hope for a new approach: self-testing at home.

((Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases)) ((mandatory cg ABC “This Week”))

“Rapid, sensitive, specific home testing, even one you might not need a prescription for so that people can have within their own power to know.”

((NARRATOR)) ((B-ROLL: CU Lucira test being prepared))

Recent technological advances suggest that widespread home testing is within reach.

((NARRATOR)) ((B-ROLL: WS woman in kitchen preparing test)) ((Courtesy: Lucira Health ))

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has authorized the first at-home COVID-19 test that generates results in less than an hour.

((NARRATOR)) ((B-ROLL: Chou demonstrating test))

Dr. John Chou led clinical studies of the test.

((Dr. John Chou, Sutter Health)) ((Courtesy: Skype 0:49:15))

“It is essentially a lab test at home.”

((Dr. John Chou, Sutter Health)) ((B-ROLL: woman swabs nose, swirls swab)) ((Courtesy: Lucira Health 0:53:15 – 01:00:28))

“On par or at least close to par as what we consider the gold standard PCR testing.”

((Dr. John Chou, Sutter Health)) ((Courtesy: Skype 01:00:29 – 01.03.19))

“There are enzymes in the solution so that when…”

((B-ROLL: woman in kitchen performing test)) ((Courtesy: Lucira Health 01:03:20 -1:15:18))

“the sample is placed it amplifies the amount of genetic material that’s there. The detector can detect it, and then within 30 minutes a result will come out.”

((Dr.John Chou, Sutter Health)) ((Courtesy: Skype 01:15:19))

“How much nicer would it be for it to be able to be done at home and keep people isolated.”

((NARRATOR)) ((B-ROLL: Chou demonstrating test))

Chou says the tests will also provide an advantage when used in clinics.

((Dr.John Chou, Sutter Health)) ((Courtesy: Skype 1:25:08 – 1:31:13))

“When we can get results that are lab quality very quickly, we can help make decisions very quickly.”

((NARRATOR)) ((B-ROLL: Lucira test package)) ((Courtesy: Lucira Health 1:31:14 – 1:36:22))

The company plans widespread distribution of the test in the US this spring.

((NARRATOR)) ((B-ROLL: transition to woman coughing in phone app)) ((Courtesy: AI4LYF at 01:36:22))

Another breakthrough in testing comes from artificial intelligence.

((NARRATOR)) ((B-ROLL: researchers analyzing cough sound samples)) ((Courtesy: AI4LYF ---ends at 1:48:18))

Researchers at the University of Oklahoma found that the cough of a person infected with COVID-19

((NARRATOR)) ((B-ROLL: soundprint of cough, patient with doctor)) ((Source: VOA original and Storyblocks))

has a unique sound signature that can be detected using AI, even in people with no discernable symptoms.

((Dr. Ali Imran, Associate Professor, University of Oklahoma)) ((Courtesy: Skype ---0:1:56:28))

“Then we built on that initial finding to try to create an app.”

((NARRATOR)) ((B-ROLL: demo of the app)) ((Courtesy: AI4LYF --- 02:02:07 to 02:22:20))

The app first had to learn to isolate a cough sound from all the background noise.

((Dr. Ali Imran, Associate Professor, University of Oklahoma)) ((Courtesy: Skype))

“About 50,000 coughs were used to train it, and then almost (the) same number of non-cough sounds were used.”

((NARRATOR)) ((B-ROLL: demo of the app)) ((Courtesy: AI4LYF))

Then the app was fine-tuned using the coughs of COVID-19 patients.

((NARRATOR)) ((B-ROLL: MIT exterior with graphic overlay)) ((Courtesy:Twitter/MIT CSAIL --- in at: 2:27:21 to 2:37:27))

Similar research at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology shows AI can detect a COVID-19 cough with nearly 100% accuracy.

((NARRATOR)) ((B-ROLL: German company testing cough app))

Industry groups around the world have joined the race to bring cough detecting apps to the public.

((Dr. Ali Imran, Associate Professor, University of Oklahoma)) ((Courtesy: Skype -- in at: 2:41:01))

“The beauty of this is that it is low cost, and it is repeatable, and it can be done every day, and it can be done several times a day.”

((NARRATOR)) ((B-ROLL: man in office coughs into app, man in home coughs in app, CU app)) ((source for last 2 shots: VOA original))

In 2021, testing for COVID-19 may become just another part of our daily routines.

((Matt Dibble for VOA News, San Francisco))


Since the start …

of the pandemic ...

healthcare workers …

have faced a monumental task:

Caring for COVID-19 patients ...

and encouraging best practices

like hand-washing …

and mask-wearing ...

while also addressing ...

legitimate concerns ...

about vaccine production …

and safety.

Rupali Limaye....

(PRONO: Roo-PAH-lee Lee-MAY)

is an infectious disease expert ...

specializing in vaccine behavior ...

at the Johns Hopkins ...

Bloomberg School of Public Health.

We spoke earlier ...

about how public health officials ...

are trying to educate ...

and encourage …

the general public ...

to get vaccinated.


RL: So the biggest challenges is that vaccines don't save lives, but vaccinations save lives. And what we're hearing with our data from people that are hearing about the vaccine hearing from their health care providers is that they are worried that the process has been politicized. It has been tainted. And they're also worried about how fast the process the vaccine development process has occurred. It's a bigger challenge now than it was six months ago. However, on the flip side, what I would say is that unfortunately, because of the way that rates are going in this country, more people now know someone that has been infected or affected by COVID. And so from an acceptance standpoint, we are hoping that will help nudge people to be more accepting once a vaccine is available.

GVS: Whose job is it to convince or persuade?

RL: I would say it's the job of all public health practitioners. So that requires doctors, that's nurses, that's pharmacist here in the United States and public health agencies as well. And over overseas, it's also going to be I think, government. I think media is a very important partner for us that work in public health particularly within this context. Social media has become a very important partner. As more information as more people I would say are getting their information from Social media. To me the role of the media is to provide evidence based scientific information. It has to be credible. It has to come from a trustworthy source. I think with regards to these vaccine cases, because they are new, to be very important for us to be able to communicate very clearly what are the side effects that could occur so we can prepare people

GVS: The level of skepticism them period is in a number of categories. Some people don't think it's safe, that we have not done enough testing on it. So they feel insecure about that. Others don't like the government control, some might have religious or cultural reasons. Or some may say, I've had COVID. So now I have antibodies. And some may say I'd rather just get COVID.

RL: I think pre COVID, we could think about these buckets of concerns into four buckets. So safety, as you mentioned, adverse events, ingredients, schedule, a vaccine schedule, and then low levels of risk perception. I think that has changed with COVID. We're still hearing I think the primary concern is safety. People feel as though it was a rushed development process, even though it still went through a rigorous safety and efficacy oversight.

GVS: How do we address from an ethical standpoint or and even from a sort of a global response to, you know, dealing with it and giving it to other countries making sure to distribute it to other countries? I mean, how do we make that determination?

RL: There has to be a bit of give and take for countries that are richer and are able to produce vaccines for their population more quickly and efficiently, need to be able to help countries that are struggling that have fragile governments. The National Academies of Science report that came out about a month ago also outlines this and it's grounded in an ethical framework. And so I think thinking of all these things, collectively, will help us hopefully make the right decisions with regards to distribution.

GVS: When you talk about ethics, a lot of Americans feel like, okay, we're happy to distribute it around the world and globally, but here in America First.

RL: I think we have to follow the science. So I think it goes back to who is most at risk, and that's who needs to be targeted here. You know, there were discussions here in the United States of should incarcerated populations be a higher tier than those that perhaps don't have any other underlying conditions. And I think, again, we need to look at the evidence and at the science as to what individuals are more at risk for not only contracting COVID, but contracting, a severe case of COVID. And that's what should be getting the vaccine first.

GVS: Do you have any information on whether or not the vaccine is going to be received well, globally?

RL: There was a recent survey, they looked at about 19 countries, and I believe it was about 30,000 participants and saw that ranges of acceptance ranges from 50%, in Russia, to 90% in China. So there are huge amounts of variance. I think it very much depends on the prevalence, as well as the response with regards to whether or not the population trust the government.

GVS: Do you find the nations working together and cooperating in this or have realized it who has a big role in that but are the nation stepping up?

RL: Absolutely. I mean, I think what we have seen so far, what we've observed with regards to what's happening globally, is that it is very much a given and take, right there is an ability I mean distribution is going to be a challenge and a lot of settings where there are disparate where they're rural, where communities are living far apart from each other and we have really seen countries share their experiences of how they are essentially immunizing individuals pre COVID through these very difficult conditions and so I think there's been a lot of sharing in that regard.

GVS: Any information on the African continent?

RL: The African continent has fared quite well, relatively speaking, I would say with regards to severity of cases as well as prevalence. I know a number of leaders shutdown quite early on in the pandemic, when just even one or two cases were detected. So I think rollout there will be easier only because a lot of residents have dealt with other infectious disease pathogens such as Ebola, for example, and that is quite fresh in their minds.

GVS: What's the role of the World Health Organization in this, if any?

RL: The World Health Organization is a great technical partner, that is to provide guidance globally and help countries think about coordination, and the mechanism for distribution as well as rollout and the who specifically related to the COVID responses played a key role with regards to gathering evidence, making sure that there are mechanisms in place for coordination, and also ensuring that countries are equipped and ready for rollout.

GVS: Yeah, I've always been a supporter of WHO, but and I thought that they sort of protected the world and gave us a heads up on this an epidemic, but I was gravely disappointed. They tweeted on January 14, this year, that, that China had said there's no human transmission to human. And that, of course, gave some people a false sense of security that turned out to be not so you know, is it is it fair to be critical of WHO think that it might have been more political or more, you'll admit listening to China at the expense of the rest of the world?

RL: I think that WHO stands as an apolitical organization, you know, we try to think about health as a political because we have to look at health from an evidence based perspective. I think there are always when there is an outbreak, there's always going to be I think, some missteps that are going to occur. I think the key here is how do we be transparent. And I think on the flip side of this is also understanding that we're learning something every day so when we first talked about mask wearing and said there was no recommendation for mask wearing that was then switched several months into the pandemic because science came out in science essentially showed that it was really important for individuals to wear masks to reduce transmission. And so I think part of it is also understanding the way that science and progress work, particularly when we're talking about novel pathogens such as SARS, Ebola.

GVS: You're gonna get the vaccine?

RL: Absolutely I will get the vaccine.But I am lucky that I'm not at high risk so I will wait to get the vaccine,and until I do get the vaccine, I will continue to stay home social distance wear a mask and not see anyone.

GVS: So you don't have a fear of the vaccine?

RL: No. I have faith in the process.

GVS: Thank you very much for joining me.

RL: Thanks so much for having me.


The Pfizer-BioNtech ...

coronavirus vaccine ...

must be stored ...

at extremely cold temperatures ...

raising concerns ...

about shipping it …

across the country.

Dry ice companies …

in the U.S. ...

say they are prepared ...

to meet the challenge.

VOA’s Esha Sarai ...

(PRONO: EE-sha Sir-EYE)

visited one such company ...

in Baltimore, Maryland.


((Introduction))[[ The Pfizer-BioNtech vaccine against the coronavirus must be stored at extremely cold temperatures, raising some concerns about the difficult task of moving it across the United States for inoculations. But dry ice companies across the U.S. say they’re up for the challenge. Esha Sarai spoke with one such company in Baltimore.]]

((Narrator)) ((dry ice machines))

As the U.S. moves the Pfizer-BioNtech vaccine against the coronavirus, a big challenge will be keeping the vaccine cold.

((Soundbite, John Dillinger, General Manager, Capitol Carbonic))

“It’s got to be kept between minus 70 and minus 90, which dry ice can do.”

((Narrator)) ((wides, exteriors of Capitol Carbonic))

But this dry ice maker in Baltimore, with decades of experience and five warehouse employees, says it won’t be competing for business.

((Soundbite, John Dillinger, General Manager, Capitol Carbonic))

“This is going to be a national deal. I don't believe there's any one dry ice company that can take care of all that.”

((Narrator)) ((close ups of the specific pellets))

Most companies like Capitol Carbonic are already producing the specific size and shape of ice. Pfizer, and likely other vaccine companies, would require the ice to come in a pellet smaller than the standard “five-eighths” size.

((Soundbite, Paul Welden, Operations Manager))

“[[This pellet]] it'll fit down in the boxes a lot more than a regular five-eight standard pellet. This is for a lot of biomedical researchers that use this.”

((Narrator)) ((shots of employees working))

Although the task seems daunting, Welden says that, having worked with the National Institutes of Health for years, his company is up to the challenge.

((Soundbite, Paul Welden, Operations Manager))

“We're ready. I mean, our tanks are full. We're capable of running seven days a week.”

((Narrator)) ((employees working; machines producing))

And Capitol Carbonic does expect that once distribution starts, dry ice production will be a 24/7 job.

((Esha Sarai, VOA News, Baltimore))


The COVID-19 pandemic ...

has affected restaurants ...

and small businesses ...

particularly hard ...

with many stores ...

scaling back hours ...

laying off workers ...

or closing permanently.

In New York City ...

one of the country’s oldest ...

and most famous bookstores ...

is getting a helping hand.

The story …

from VOA’s Anna Nelson.




[[Amid the COVID pandemic, one of America's most famous and oldest bookstores, The Strand, called for help – and book lovers answered. Anna Nelson has the story, narrated by Anna Rice.]]


((Nancy Bass Wyden, Owner, Strand Bookstore))

“My first memory is walking into the store and seeing it painted ghostly gray, seeing all the walls of books everywhere, smelling chocolatey. And seeing my grandpa and dad working side by side at the BindDesk… Heading straight to the children’s section where it was just candy-colored books… And I felt like such a princess because I can pick out any book!”


Nancy Bass Wyden is the third generation of The Strand owners. Ninety-three years ago, her grandfather opened the store that later became one of New York City’s most famous bookstores. Today the Strand is in a myriad of New York City guides as one of the most unusual, largest and oldest bookstores in the world.

((Vasilis Terpsopoulos, Rare Book Expert, Strand Bookstore))

“This is the most expensive book in the store currently. It’s a limited signed edition of James Joyce’s Ulysses. It was signed by Henry Matisse – the artist who illustrated it, and also by James Joyce.”


The Strand has survived the Great Depression, two world wars and 9-11. But the COVID pandemic has become the store’s biggest challenge. The store was closed for four months, and its financial troubles are getting worse.

((Nancy Bass Wyden, Owner, Strand Bookstore))

“Of course, at first it was very painful, I very much felt all alone and I didn’t know what I am going to do now. I decided I would write a heartfelt letter and appeal to our customers and my friends. The only ask was – would you buy your holiday gifts from us…


Three hours after the post was published, the Strand’s website crashed. 25 thousand online orders came in simultaneously. Before the pandemic, the daily average was around 300.

((Nancy Bass Wyden, Owner, Strand Bookstore))

“We had one lady from the Bronx, and she put in an order of 197 books. We had people volunteering to give employees pizza parties, $500 gift cards…”


The packaging department couldn’t manage the tsunami of orders, so Wyden joined them. The store’s employees voluntarily came into work on weekends – to help with the orders.

((Dan Roth, Web Orders Manager, Strand Bookstore))

“It was a sort of a combination of wow and uh-oh! We’re trying to figure out how we’re going to do this!”

((NATS)) ((Nancy outside on the street))

“Thank you, New York, for today!”


At the same time a giant line snaked outside the Strand’s entrance – for the first time since mid-March, New Yorkers in large numbers came to the bookstore.

((Sara Buroi, Customer))

“It’s really sad, so everyone is getting books for Christmas this year! Everyone I know!”


Thanks to simple acts of generosity Wyden says the store will survive however many more months of the pandemic there are.

((Nancy Bass Wyden, Owner, Strand Bookstore))

“I have to think that my grandpa and dad are looking down at this turn of events and are absolutely floored and cannot believe this phenomenon… And I never would have imagined this outpouring of love!”

((For Anna Nelson in New York, Anna Rice, VOA News))


That’s all the time we have for now.

My thanks to …

Rupali Limaye ...

(PRONO: Roo-PAH-lee Lee-MAY)

from the Johns Hopkins …

Bloomberg School …

of Public Health,

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