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Reasons for Gratitude Amid the COVID-19 Pandemic

Posted on by Dr. Francis Collins

Thanksgiving Tribute
Credit: Getty Images

For many of us, Thanksgiving will feel really different this year. Less will need to be more, as we celebrate alone or with our immediate household members to stay safe and help combat the surge in COVID-19 cases across most of the land. And yet, times of trouble can also help us to focus on what’s really important in our lives. So, even as we face these challenges and the range of emotions that arise with them, it’s worth remembering that this Thanksgiving, there remain many reasons to be grateful.

I’m certainly grateful for a loving family and friends that provide depth and meaning to life, even though most of us can’t be physically together and hug each other right now. My faith is also a source of comfort and reassurance at this time. I also feel a deep sense of gratitude for everyone who has sacrificed for the common good over the last several months, especially those who’ve masked up and physically distanced to provide essential services in our communities to keep everything going. You will no doubt have your own list of heroes, but here are just a few of mine:

Healthcare workers, thanks for all you do under such difficult and dangerous conditions.
Essential workers, thanks for clocking in every day. That includes bus drivers, grocery store cashiers, waste collectors, tradespeople, firefighters, law enforcement officers, and all those who deliver packages to my door.
Teachers, working remotely or in person. Thanks for your commitment to our students and continuing to bring out the best in them.
Parents, including so many now working with kids at home. Thanks for juggling responsibilities and making everything work.
Clinical trials participants. Your participation is critical for developing treatments and vaccines. Thanks to you all, including the fine examples of many public figures, including the trial participation of Senator Rob Portman and financial contribution of legendary performer Dolly Parton.
Everyone following the 3 W’s: Wear a mask, Watch your distance, and Wash your hands. Thank you for doing your part every day to keep yourself, your loved ones, and your community safe. You are our front lines in the battle.
Researchers, from both the public and private sectors, who are working in partnership all around the world. Our shared goal is to learn all we can about COVID-19 and to develop better tests, new treatments, and safe and effective vaccines.

On that note, you may have heard about the very promising interim clinical trial results of an investigational COVID-19 vaccine known as mRNA-1273, co-developed by the biotechnology company Moderna, Cambridge, MA, and NIH’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. That mRNA vaccine was found to be 94.5 percent effective in preventing symptomatic COVID-19. Another mRNA vaccine, developed by Pfizer and BioNTech, also recently was shown to be 95 percent effective and has now submitted an application for emergency use authorization (EUA) to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). In addition, AstraZeneca announced that, in a late-stage clinical trial, the vaccine it developed in partnership with the University of Oxford reduced the risk of COVID-19 infection by an average of 70 percent, with up to 90 percent efficacy in one dosing regimen.

Other promising vaccine candidates continue to work their way through clinical trials, and we’ll no doubt be hearing more about those soon. It is truly remarkable to accomplish in 10 months what normally takes about 8 years. Therapeutic progress is also moving forward rapidly, with a second monoclonal antibody treatment for high-risk outpatients receiving emergency use authorization from the FDA just a few days ago.

For all of these advances, I am immensely grateful. Of course, it will take time and continued study to get a COVID-19 vaccine fully approved and distributed to all those who need it. The success of any vaccine also will hinge on people across the country—including you and all those whom I’ve recognized here—making the choice to protect themselves and others by getting vaccinated against COVID-19.

As we look ahead to that day when the COVID-19 pandemic is under control, I encourage you to take some time to jot down your own list of reasons to be grateful. Encourage family members to do the same and take some time to share them with one another, whether it’s around the table or by email, phone, or videoconferencing. The holidays are a time for making memories and—as different as it may look—this year is no different. So, while you’re enjoying your Thanksgiving meal around a smaller table, remember that you’re doing it from a place of love and gratitude. I wish for you a safe and happy Thanksgiving.


Coronavirus (COVID) (NIH)

Your Health: Holiday Celebrations and Small Gatherings (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta)

Your Health: Personal and Social Activities (CDC)


  • Spike Thomas says:

    I am praying to Allah. May protect all of our human beings from this dangerous pandemic. This is been too long to survive through COVID. Thank you for sharing such a valuable article.

  • Alexander Ramig says:

    I agree wholeheartedly. I thank the Lord for you and the leadership you provide.

  • Patrick and Patricia Watters says:

    We are grateful for you and your colleagues’ leadership in these times.

  • William Kelley says:

    What my dear friend Francis Collins did not mention was the absolutely crucial role of NIH funding to support this research over the past 50 years of the molecular biology revolution and especially during the past 30 years as the more controversial gene based technologies were evolving. Clearly, what we have today only exists because of that support.

    • Dr. Francis Collins says:

      Hey there, Bill Kelley!
      Great to see your post – and for people who don’t know, YOU were a pioneer starting 35 years ago in gene therapy applications to human diseases. Thanks for your leadership, and for being my supportive and wise Chairman when I was just starting out at the University of Michigan.

  • Jerry Diemer says:

    Thanks for grounding us and reminding us of our many blessings. God bless America.

  • Sam Tsang says:

    Thank you for sharing this valuable information …

  • Elizabeth F Newberry says:

    I am thankful for a great deal, for all of the many people you have mentioned. But I want to thank YOU, Dr. Collins, Francis, my friend, for your leadership in helping us get through this difficult time. This was a huge, lifetime, challenge and you and your team and all the scientists around the world have met the challenge by working tirelessly. THANK YOU!
    You have a peaceful, healthy Thanksgiving!

  • Vladyslav Antipov says:

    Dr. Collins, thank you for your leadership and deep gratitude to all those who have been working diligently to end this pandemic through scientific research. While it seems like major milestones have been met in such an accelerated period of time, I appreciate the fact that decades of basic research built the foundation for these incredible breakthroughs.

  • FI says:

    I am really concerned about the COVID-19 issue on this Thanksgiving and Christmas event time. Relatives and friends are coming and it’s really tough to hold them. What kind of precautious I can take to protect my family?

  • Doris says:

    This sure has enlightened me more about this specific aspect. Thank you!
    Even during the toughest times of your life, there is still a myriad of reasons for you to be grateful. Gratitude is a way for one to have contentment in life— appreciating the little things that nurture your life. You can experience many difficult times in your life. However, if you notice, you get past it, which gives you more reasons to make the most out of it. Counting your blessings is really important if you want to experience the real meaning of happiness . . .

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