I’ve heard it said that it takes courage to be happy, and I would add that it also takes faith. The deadly COVID-19 certainly tested humanity’s collective capacity for both this year. Fortunately, we are affiliated with an institution that always focuses on solutions to the world’s most pressing challenges, from public health crises on Earth to remote exploration on Mars.
We are the lucky ones who witness courage, faith, and progress on a regular basis. We have access to some of the world’s most brilliant thinkers. Most importantly, we have the evidence of history on which to build our case that, yes, miracles do happen. They may require years of scientific exploration, but they do happen.
In fact, on Dec. 14, Michigan received its first shipment of COVID-19 vaccine. Let the miracles begin!
In this issue, you’ll see Arnold Monto, a leading epidemiologist in the School of Public Health, explain how the vaccine was developed and how it works. His assured, matter-of-fact demeanor eradicated any hesitation I may have felt about the “warp speed” at which the pharmaceutical community moved. You’ll also hear Howard Markel, a medical historian and physician who helped steer the public health response to our current crisis.
As we honor those we’ve lost and reflect on the heartbreaks of this year, it’s important that we also celebrate the forward momentum we’ve seen. Medical innovation, engineering marvels, social justice protests, and creative triumphs are in the DNA at U-M. Health care workers, professors, students, staff, and alumni worldwide have demonstrated resilience every day, creating miracles from the ICU to the protest lines to the Zoom screen.
Nearly every time a major world event takes place, one can be confident of a University of Michigan connection. Whether it’s a trip to the moon, achieving women’s suffrage, breaking the color barrier in baseball, or even writing one of the most-beloved Christmas stories of all time, U-M plays a role.
This month, I was gifted an editorial miracle that let me end this wretched year on a high note (at least in terms of storytelling). I hope you enjoy the charming tale of four alumni and a wedding band in Brooklyn. As miracles go, it’s a pretty sweet one that will make you proud to be a Wolverine.
(Top image: The first five frontline workers at U-M prepare to receive the COVID-19 vaccine Dec. 14, 2020. Image: Joe Hallisy, Michigan Medicine.)