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January 10, 2021

The Vaccine! Another Perspective

It is important to separate the science and biomedical research behind the Wuhan Flu (Covid-19) vaccine from the political ramifications of its use. I am confident of the research that went into it, I am confident of the studies supporting its safety and efficacy, and I am probably going to get it...eventually.

I think most of the non-political arguments against it are arrant nonsense, borne of an understandable suspicion of government and large industry, neither of which have covered themselves in glory recently. But facts are facts, and when thel arguments against it are based on ridiculous and embarrassing ignorance of the basic science behind mRNA vaccines and wholly unfounded suggestions of nefarious doings, we need to return to those facts.

At its simplest, mRNA is a xerox copy of a piece of DNA that corresponds to a protein. The mRNA goes to a cellular organelle called a ribosome, where the code for that protein is read and then the protein is produced. And then the mRNA degrades into its constituent parts. It is chemically distinct from DNA and there is no sane pathway for it to enter the genome. This is high school biology level. Nothing complicated. Certainly nothing new. And mRNA vaccines are the future, in part because they can be created so quickly. Just think about the scramble to make the flu vaccine every year. It's a guessing game about which flu strains will emerge, then a frantic push to make enough of it for the world. mRNA vaccines are more straightforward to make and as we have just seen, pharma can make a lot of them in a very short time.

But political arguments against personal use of the vaccine are another thing entirely. While I disagree with this gentleman's suspicion of the approval process, his points are rational and should be taken seriously.

Refusing the COVID-19 Vaccine: Vaccination, safetyism, and the art of the conservative virtue-signal

I believe that widespread immunity to COVID would be a good thing, if only to reduce the death rate among elderly people and other groups with special risks. I also believe that COVID would make me quite ill if I got it, although all of the data show that I would almost certainly survive it and make a full recovery. While I am greatly concerned about the willingness of governments across the country to enforce legally-questionable requirements like mask mandates and business closures, I personally don’t have any problem with wearing a mask (except mild annoyance at how it fogs up my glasses). I am happy that an effective vaccine has been developed, and I am proud that (as with so many great scientific breakthroughs) it was largely American ingenuity and drive that produced it. I do not believe that taking the vaccine entails any significant side effects, and I’m not with the crazies who think that Bill Gates is using it as a means to microchip us.

Nevertheless, I will not be getting the vaccine. To me, rejecting the vaccine is an affirmation of reason at a moment when reason is suffering a great deal of abuse.

It's a relatively long article, but certainly worth a read. As I said, I disagree with him, but he is making an informed decision based on his political and cultural analysis of the issue.

And then it gets really good, because he skewers the increasing tendency of America to be afraid of all risks, no matter how trivial and manageable.

Our response to COVID-19 is one example of a disturbing trend some have called safetyism: the idea that all of the inherent risks that life entails must be reduced, that state power must be mobilized to mitigate those risks, and that any intervention that reduces those risks to any degree is justified.
Let's be honest...the actions of government to minimize these risks are not predicated on concern for our welfare. It serves two purposes; to create a climate of fear among the people so they clamor for government intervention; and perhaps more important, the universal desire of those in power to exercise that power.
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posted by CBD at 12:00 PM

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