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For a vaccine to get from phase I to phase III trials in just ten months, as rVSV-ZEBOV did, was unheard of at the time—a startling example of what urgency and organisation can do. Now a repeat performance, ideally taken at an even faster tempo, is the sum of the world’s desire. In the middle of April more people are dying of covid-19 every three days than died of Ebola in west Africa over three years. A vaccine would not just save lives; it would change the course of the pandemic in two separate, if related, ways. It would protect those who were vaccinated from getting sick; and by reducing the number of susceptible people it would prevent the virus from spreading, thus also protecting the unvaccinated.

I have 2 questions

  • what does "if related" mean and why is separated by comma?
  • would ... were, is it subjunctive? If not, will the meaning be different if I change it to simple present tense as "It would protect those who ARE vaccinated from getting sick"?

article link : https://www.economist.com/briefing/2020/04/16/can-the-world-find-a-good-covid-19-vaccine-quickly-enough

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The "if related" qualifies the previous "two separate". It says that they are not "two completely separate" things but they have overlapping effects. The next sentence list the two things, separated by the semi-colon.


I am less sure on the second question, but my thought are:

The suggested words "It would protect those who ARE vaccinated from getting sick" feels wrong (to my UK senses). To me the suggested words have an implicit "already" as in are already vaccinated".

The words " It would protect those who were vaccinated from getting sick" mean that vaccinating a person protects them from getting sick. The "were vaccinated" is the act of giving the vaccine, the rest of the words are about the benefits of having been given the vaccine.

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