Hesitancy

June 15, 2021

Probably realizing that the term anti-vaxxer has a lot of problematic (and inaccurate) ramifications to it, the term I see being used a lot these days for folks who haven’t sought out a COVID vaccine is hesitant. I don’t think the frequent vitriol behind this term is any more muted than that behind the term anti-vaxxer. But it sounds nicer. Until you start listening to what is being said to and about those who are hesitant.

I fall into that hesitant camp. Even though I’ve had and recovered from COVID without issue (as the vast majority of those infected with COVID do), I’m being told in the media that I still need to get vaccinated. My question is why. The vaccine is intended to prompt and instruct the body on how to produce antibodies capable of fighting a COVID infection, either preventing full-blown infection or reducing the symptoms of such an infection (thereby decreasing the odds of winding up in the hospital on a ventilator). That’s how the vaccine has been explained to us. However, since I had COVID, my body already knows how to produce those antibodies. It had to learn that a harder way, some might say. But it learned. It produced the antibodies, and it now knows how to produce those antibodies again should it need them.

A study released late last month indicates as such. And the report asserts people who have recovered from even mild cases of COVID have exactly the same anti-body producing capabilities as those who receive the vaccine. Yet the CDC’s current recommendation is that relaxing of mask and social distancing rules – not to mention potential travel and other restrictions – be lifted only for those who are vaccinated, and not for those who have recovered from COVID (and would presumably be given the option of a paper or digital certification that the associated antibodies have been found in their bodies).

What is being created is a dangerous and, at least in my lifetime, unprecedented division based on health decisions. One set of rules for people who have received the vaccine, and another for those who have not. The lunacy of this goes beyond simply the logistical level, and I believe contributes a great deal to the hesitancy and skepticism of some people – the very people the CDC apparently wants desperately to convince to get vaccinated.

Why won’t I get the COVID vaccine until it is unavoidable? Why am I hesitant or skeptical?

  1. I’ve had COVID (as verified by a state-run COVID testing site administered by professionals). Therefore, I have the antibodies to fight it. I have seen no documentation that disputes this is the case.
  2. I have seen zero evidence that having the vaccine on top of having recovered from COVID gives me any demonstrable improvement in my odds of fighting off or minimizing symptoms if exposed to COVID in the future. While some want to argue the vaccine somehow provides better protection, I’ve seen no reports explaining why this would be the case (let alone documenting that it is the case, whether we can explain it or not). Arguments that you can get sick with COVID again after having been infected with it once are not surprising to me, but the same argument can be used for the vaccine. There are documented cases of people being fully vaccinated and still getting COVID. This doesn’t surprise me either.
  3. Unlike a vaccine, I do not have worries that the antibodies my body created are somehow going to cause other problems in my body in the short or long-term. This doesn’t mean such complications or problems might not occur, but then it is a biological issue rather than an issue of someone else’s manufactured solution being found to cause problems. Articles repeatedly assert that vaccines are safe. What this means is not that the vaccine is safe, but rather that no health or other issues have been found directly related to the vaccine. This is a very different thing than safe.
    1. No organization can reasonably be expected to be able (let alone willing!) to test for every conceivable form of interaction problem or health problem.
    2. Even if such were possible, we would not necessarily be able to properly spot and identify those problems.
    3. While some short-term testing for some easily detectable problems has been done, there are no long-term studies about possible side effects. This is not possible because the vaccines are less than a year old. Despite being assured about their safety, already there have been many questions raised about possible direct side effects (heart issues, stroke issues, etc.) as well as indirect side effects (fertility issues in women, how the vaccine affects younger people and children). It is insulting when someone condescendingly dismisses concerns about safety as though I’m stupid because the vaccines have been proven safe. They have not. They have proven to be free of short-term, easily diagnosed reactions (in most people). We won’t know for years whether they are safe, either in and of themselves or in conjunction with other vaccines and medications.
  4. Science is once again making assertions without any serious attempt to validate or demonstrate why those assertions should be followed. Vaccines stimulate the body to create antibodies to fight off COVID. When infected by COVID the body creates antibodies to fight off COVID. Both create the same antibodies within the body (or do they?). Therefore, to treat the 30 million (at least) Americans who have been diagnosed with COVID over the last year as a health risk makes no logical sense.
  5. Therefore, I am skeptical about other intentions that could be at play here, with science and the pandemic being coopted to serve those ends. Creating a vaccine ID in any form that might be required for access to services or opportunities is a dangerous first step towards a broader system that includes or excludes people not based on their citizenship status or other longstanding criteria but simply based on whether they’ve done something the government wants them to do or not. Anyone with an awareness of history and human nature should be deeply concerned about any such efforts, even when they’re offered under the guise of protecting public health (or perhaps especially when they’re offered as such!).
  6. When scientists tell me something has to happen when science itself would seem to suggest otherwise, I get skeptical. Such reasoning is quickly dismissed in many corners as conspiracy theory stuff, and therefore not necessary to provide an intelligent answer to, or to take seriously. For me (and I don’t knowingly read conspiracy theories), there are two major, very possible (as vetted by history) reasons why science might be employed to push for universal vaccinations even though the science doesn’t support this is necessary:
    1. The vaccines include or do something beyond what the natural antibody response does. In other words, there is more to the vaccine than just COVID antibody instructions, and the important thing is that everyone gets whatever that other element is. Perhaps this wasn’t intended in the vaccine design but discovered afterwards. Or perhaps it was part of the design. This would explain why people who have recovered from COVID and therefore have the antibodies are being ignored or told this doesn’t exempt them from the need for the vaccine.
    2. The government is using this as an opportunity to push not simply for COVID vaccinations but to set the groundwork for a rolling, ongoing system of mandatory vaccinations to whatever is deemed viable. Vaccine IDs would be used ultimately not just for COVID vaccine (or even for just vaccines or health-related issues) but also flu shots and all the other vaccinations currently considered de rigueur as well as any future ones we might develop. Failure to participate in “recommended” programs and actions would flag you, limiting access to services and goods or requiring onerous practices in order to access them. If this sounds far-fetched, consider that California passed mandatory immunization legislation several years ago that mandates immunizations but does not require recipients to be told what vaccines they are being given (note item 11 under Section 1) and allows a state board/committee to decide when to add additional immunizations to the required list.

I’ve yet to see an intelligent response to these concerns either in total or in part. What I typically find in either belligerent dismissals of hesitancy or attempts at empathy boil down to unsupported assertions or fear-mongering. Get the vaccine because it’s a lot safer than the actual virus. The vaccines are safe and questioning that for any reason is dangerous and/or stupid. These are not intelligent answers, no matter how empathetic they’d like to be. They ignore logic, common sense, history, and science itself. A much better response would be a balanced one that acknowledges both what we don’t know as well as all of what we do know. A better response would explain why natural antibodies are not as good as vaccine-induced antibodies. A better response would explain why, if vaccinated people are safe(r), those who choose not to get the vaccine for any reason are not entitled to that decision and the inherent personal risk associated with it, knowing that anyone else at serious risk has more than likely made a similar personal decision to take that risk.

Meaningful and intelligent answers to these concerns would help alleviate my hesitancy regarding the COVID vaccine. They won’t alleviate my concerns about setting up a situation where people are treated as second-class citizens because of a personal health decision. But I think a lot of other hesitant folks would like to see some good solid answers to these questions without being mocked, insulted, or condescended to. Particularly at this point when COVID is decreasing around the world overall (with some exceptions).

I’m fully aware that COVID could surge again. And as many have pointed out, it isn’t likely to ever go away completely. Then again, a year ago that wasn’t the goal of these restrictions and limitations. The goal was to make sure that medical systems and facilities and personnel were not overwhelmed by the small percentage (but large numbers when dealing with millions and millions of cases) of severe cases. Is this still the goal? Is the goal eliminating the COVID virus? Is that possible (hardly). Is it providing universal and complete immunity to everyone (doesn’t seem to be either possible or reasonable). Are there other goals further down the line that aren’t being discussed, and if so, what are they and why not lay them out?

The media could be a big help in this if they actually reported facts instead of distorting the larger reality to focus on worst-case scenarios and exceptions to the rule. All we hear about is deaths or long-term health problems brought on by COVID. We aren’t presented regularly with the overall figures and percentages that help put all of this into a proper perspective, and without that proper perspective people are vulnerable to any number of bad decisions both personally and communally. Ultimately (and long-term) the best protection we have in pandemics is good, solid information and not necessarily just a couple jabs in the arm.

Reading Ramblings – June 20, 2021

June 13, 2021

Date: Fourth Sunday after Pentecost – June 20, 2021 

Texts: Job 38:1-11; Psalm 124; 2 Corinthians 6:1-13; Mark 4:35-41 

Context: At least in America, there is a stream of Christianity that emphasizes that life in Christ is a life victorious.  Not victorious solely over sin and Satan and death – which we are very definitely victors over as partakers in the victory of Christ in his resurrection! – but all manifestations of deprivation and suffering such forces might cause.  Poverty, suffering, disease – these are not to be considered by the Christian!  The one with enough faith in Christ is immune and free from such mundanities!  And of course, for the many, many, many Christians who do deal with these things, it’s simply evidence of insufficient faith.  But the reality of human existence – and Christians are human – is that suffering is real.  Poverty is crushingly real at times.  Deprivation not just of liberty but of food or clean water or even life itself at the end of a gun or the point of a sword is a reality many Christians have and do face, and will likely continue to experience.  Is God somehow remiss in allowing this?  Is He unable or unwilling to deliver his people not just in the day of our Lord’s return but in every day in between?  The readings today call us to remember the essence of faith not as comfort or leisure or lack of suffering, but rather as the insistence that God is God, and He is the God who is there (to quote Francis Schaeffer).  Our duty as his creatures is to trust him in all things.  Not in a passive, resigned, helpless sense, but in the understanding that some things are out of our control, but never his.  And in the end, He will be revealed in truth and glory, and our faith will be vindicated. 

Job 38:1-11 – If the story of Job is well known to many Christians, I wish the conclusion to his travails were!  After nearly 40 chapters of suffering and agony, God finally comes to Job.  We prepare ourselves – ah, at last!  Job will have his answer!  But the answer God gives is anything but comforting, at least at first glance.  Rather than soothing Job with explanations and perhaps even an apology, God drives Job to his knees before the power and majesty of the Creator of the Universe.  Who is Job to demand an answer?  Who in all creation can or should demand anything of God, and on what pretext?  Who is like God in power, in majesty, in eternity?  The answer stings.  We may not get an answer to our questions and our laments in this life. We may not get them in eternity!  But what we do have is the presence and assurances of God who is the Creator of all things.  If we are unhappy with how things are going, do we imagine God is somehow absent or not in control?  Of course not!  Our strength and comfort lies not in being able to control our circumstances (though we do to some extent), nor the knowledge we can summon God like a genie to grant our wishes, but rather the confidence that God holds all things in his hands, including us and our suffering.  We never suffer alone, and we know that our suffering does not define us.  Rather, the defining word in our lives for eternity is life.  Life made possible by faith in the atoning death and resurrection of the incarnate Son of God, Jesus the Christ. 

Psalm 124 – We easily forget deliverance when the struggle has passed.  It is easy for us to forget how God has preserved us throughout our lives.  Indeed, were it not for God there could be no hope – something our culture is discovering the hard way after its flight from God.  Christians are defined as the people God has rescued from sin, Satan and death.  We have hope, and that hope is in the name of the Lord, maker of heaven and earth. 

2 Corinthians 6:1-13 – Although the Epistle reading does not necessarily align with the other readings during the liturgical season of ordinary time, today it meshes well with the theme of the reality  of suffering as well as hope.  Lest we think Jesus’ disciples were somehow exempt from suffering we need only look at St. Paul’s list of endured hardships to know this was not the case.  Yet rather than seeing such suffering as evidence of the falseness of Christ, they understood such sufferings as opportunities to exercise faith and trust in God.  Each day, regardless of how difficult it is, is a day in which we do by faith experience the favor of God and his salvation given to us through faith in his Son. 

Mark 4:35-41 – Mark concludes one of his few longer records of Jesus’ teachings with not a final parable but an event.  Having spent the day explaining the nature of the kingdom of God and the power in it despite external experiences, his disciples experience this reality in a concrete way.  Fearful of death via one of the powerful storms that can sweep across the Sea of Galilee, and having exhausted their own skill and knowledge they cry out to Jesus who has fallen asleep in the rear of the ship.  What faith and trust He has in his heavenly Father, to sleep so soundly when the ship is tossed by waves and wind!  When awakened He rebukes the wind – this is no ordinary storm.  Mark uses the same word here as he does later in Chapter 9:25 when Jesus rebukes an evil spirit.  Opposition to Jesus is raised in the form of wind and wave by powers opposed to him.  But what power can oppose the will of God the Father, who is above all things and controls all things?  Jesus rests in the knowledge that God the Father will allow nothing untimely to befall him.  Jesus’ disciples do not appear to have the same knowledge or confidence, but then they are still unsure as to who Jesus is.  Jesus rebukes his disciples for their lack of faith, something inappropriate in a disciple.  Do they not trust their master and teacher?  The question seems unfair.  They don’t know Jesus is more than just a master and teacher.  That confession will come later (Mark 8).  Yet Jesus expects that based on what they have seen and heard so far, that faith should already be better defined and exercised.  God is God.  If all our efforts have failed to deliver ourselves from a given situation, we are called to remember our true situation at all times – we are in God’s hands.  Thus Jesus will consign himself as He nears death (Luke 23:46).  This is the language of the faithful at all times.  God is the one who holds our lives and situations, not us.  We can and should deal with all situations in this faith that sees through the struggle at hand to the victorious Savior and his promises to us through faith.

A Fine How-Do-You-Do

June 9, 2021

Remember all those banners and window signs and chalk drawings over the past year thanking our first responders and medical personnel for their service during the pandemic? Remember all those commercials about how these men and women in medical scrubs are heroes fighting to save lives?

Yeah, forget all of that because now we have a vaccine and if you don’t want to take it we’re going to fire you. That’s what nearly 200 health care employees in a Texas hospital system have been told – as they’ve been placed on a two-week suspension. It doesn’t matter how hard you worked to save lives, how you risked your own health or the health of your loved ones. All of that was just expected of you. But now we are going to dictate to you how you’re going to deal with your own health.

And if you disagree with us we’re going to smear you as people who don’t care about their patients.

The same people who have been saving lives for over a year.

Shouldn’t we be outraged by the brazen, callous language of a hospital system about its own employees? Shouldn’t we be outraged that these men and women who have been lauded as heroes for laboring to save lives at their own personal risk when there wasn’t a vaccine are now being smeared as selfish and uncaring just because there is a vaccine? A vaccine, mind you, with no long-term studies and that is more than likely – based on available current data – going to require additional boosters. And a vaccine that is being pushed and shoved despite the fact COVID case rates in the US (and around the world) have dropped dramatically.

I pray there are law suits brought quickly to stop this dangerous precedent. Not that it’s going to save these people from losing their jobs, most likely. But perhaps it will ensure that heroes are spared this unnecessary and outrageous treatment.

Celebrating Life – Selectively

June 9, 2021

This article headline caught my eye – announcing scientific discoveries of the remarkable resilience of a very small creature. And while the longevity of these tiny creatures as another testimony to the creativity and imagination of our God is worthwhile in itself, it was one particular word in the headline that gave me pause.

Animal.

A living being. One definition of the word says a living organism that feeds on organic matter, typically having specialized sense organs and nervous system and able to respond rapidly to stimuli. Yet it’s tiny. Really tiny. Too small to be seen with the naked eye according to Wikipedia.

Yet there’s CBS declaring this critter alive and valuable while at the same time promoting news angles that attack the humanity – even the animalness – of unborn human babies. And it made me sad that such language – and the protections that language imply – would be extended so freely and joyfully to one creature, yet denied so vehemently to human babies in a mother’s womb. Science, the new religion of the West, depicted as fearlessly objective in pursuing truth, should be the first voice against abortion. But it isn’t. It’s curiously silent.

Unless you aren’t a threat to current cultural assumptions and assertions – or funding sources.

Reading Ramblings – June 13, 2021

June 6, 2021

Date: Third Sunday after Pentecost ~ June 13, 2021 

Texts: Ezekiel 17:22-24; Psalm 1; 2 Corinthians 5:1-10; Mark 4:26-34 

Context: The season of Ordinal/Ordinary Time focuses us on the ongoing work of God the Holy Spirit in the world, the Church, and our individual lives.  The readings today collectively point us towards the miraculous and counter-intuitive nature of this work.  Our God delights in confounding our expectations and turning our prioritizations on their head, doing what we deem impossible by means we would consider ludicrous.  Ultimately this is to our blessing and benefit.  Hope is always available to us even when circumstances seem least hospitable to it.  Our God’s power and activity is literally unlimited, for which He alone is to be praised and honored. 

Ezekiel 17:22-24 – God called his people in Jerusalem and Judea to trust in him.  He has called them to faithful trust in his provision and protection for many years now, and they have repeatedly ignored him.  Their rebellion has led God to discipline them through the Babylonians, who laid siege to Jerusalem, took the leading families of the city back to Babylon as hostage, and installed a puppet king.  Now this puppet king has reneged on his promised duties to Babylon, seeking support from Egypt.  But God reveals that not only is this plan known, it will fail.  It will not free Jerusalem from Babylon, and it will result in the puppet king Zedekiah’s death.  But what God’s rebellious people sought to accomplish of their own power and wisdom God will accomplish by his power and wisdom, and in his timing.  Their unfaithfulness will be supplanted by his faithfulness.  All of this is to the benefit of God’s people, to be sure, but it is also ultimately for the glory of God, that all might recognize him as the one, true God. 

Psalm 1 –  The beginning of the Biblical song book sets the tone for all the psalms to follow.  God’s Word is the one true and reliable source of life.  There are only two ways through life, one in accord with God’s Word or against it.  The myriad options, religions, philosophies of the world all can be distilled down to one of these two options.  God’s Word results in blessing – God’s favor and protection.  The one who lives according to God’s Word is blessed.  It is a present as well as future reality which can be relied upon.  Those who act against or without God’s Word are not blessed.  They are not firmly established like a tree near water, they are insubstantial and transient like chaff, the light and useless husk of a head of grain.  Regardless of what power or prestige they may possess at any given time, they are not established in the Lord’s favor and therefore won’t last.  While we may not always be able to recognize it, God is always looking over his creation and creatures.  Evil will be punished, and trust in God’s Word will lead life.   

2 Corinthians 5:1-10 – Take a moment to read 2 Corinthians 4:16-28, as this provides the context for the opening verses of Chapter 5.  Although Psalm 1 may make it sound like following the Word of God is the guarantee of a good life, this is not necessarily the case.  Sin within us and around us and the work of Satan and his followers often ensures that God’s faithful are persecuted, mistreated, even killed.  But this does not deter us from God’s Word, which points us to Christ in whom is our hope.  Our hope is not grounded in only what is at the moment, in the pleasantries and pleasures of this pleasant life, in the good regard and esteem of those around us, and in good health and strength.  These things are transient, imperfect as they are right now.  What we look forward to is these things in their perfection, possible only after the return of our Lord.  We do not lose heart in the struggles of this world because we actively and intentionally fix our eyes on what lies ahead, on what is coming, on what is revealed only partially now but will be revealed in fullness and power.  Our confidence comes not in a successful life as the world defines it, but by  knowing that our Lord is coming, and until He arrives we will likely experience trials and tribulations.  And we conduct ourselves now in the knowledge and confidence of his return.  We should not interpret verse 10 as meaning it is the sum of our good or bad deeds that determine God’s attitude towards us on judgment day.  Rather, as Paul references in his first letter to the Corinthians (1 Corinthians 3:10-15) our good deeds will be revealed for what they are – whether we think they’re good or not, while our bad deeds are burned up and gone.  Paul’s words should give us confidence in our struggles, rather than sowing doubt in our contemplations! 

Mark 4:26-34 – Mark records a variety of Jesus’ teachings and parables regarding the kingdom of God and its nature.  The parables in this section all focus on the power of the kingdom of God, power that resides not in what we contribute to it or do, but simply in that it is God’s kingdom and power, and He will accomplish what He wills.  Our participation comes after his power works, whether that participation is by harvesting the ripe grain or taking shelter in the immenseness of the mustard tree.  Clearly our participation is not the emphasis, and we are not the ones to receive glory for doing what is only obvious and natural, as God has instilled those things in us!  God receives the glory for doing what appears impossible with the least likely of means, utilizing something as small and seemingly innocuous as a tiny seed or his Word and some water or a bit of bread and wine to accomplish incredible things like salvation.  We should be assured that God’s kingdom is coming, just as surely as seed planted in the ground will sprout and grow.  We should be assured that his kingdom comes not because of what we do but rather in spite of it.  Not because of the strength of our faith but despite the smallness of our faith (Matthew 17:20).  We respond in faith to what He is already doing.  We respond in faith to the incoming of the kingdom of God in the Son of God, Jesus the Christ.  It’s already here.  Already growing.  Already working.  And we are already in it!  We are privileged to be the first to point to the effects it has in this world here and now in our hearts and minds as we are transformed and sanctified day by day.   

Mandatory Vaccinations

June 3, 2021

Interesting but pretty low-key coverage last week of an announcement from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) that employers can mandate employees to get COVID vaccinations. Most news reports I read emphasized how employers could incentivize employees to get the vaccine, but the far more concerning aspect to me is that they can mandate the vaccine. No vaccine? No continued employment. How does that not qualify as “coercive”, something employers are supposed to avoid in their incentive programs? About the only part of the reports that make sense is that there will be a lot of lawsuits as employers and employees try to navigate whatever the EEOC is trying to accomplish but prefers to do so through the private sector rather than Federal decree.

What is the rationale for allowing employers this broad degree of control over the personal health choices of their employees? Will this be used in conjunction with future possible COVID-related shutdowns, so that companies that require their employees to be vaccinated will be allowed to continue operations while other similar companies with no such policy will be shut down if non-essential?

If an employer can mandate COVID vaccinations, what else can they mandate in the realm of personal choice regarding health care? Can they mandate flu vaccines? Under what conditions? The EEOC’s own website acknowledges that public health guidelines are subject to fluctuation, so what about companies that mandate the COVID vaccine (or any other vaccine) only to have public health guidelines alter or reverse? You can’t undo an injection.

Section K is the relevant section of the EEOC’s most recent COVID-related guidelines, and section K.1 stipulates that employers may require all employees to obtain vaccination as a condition for physically returning to a workplace. What this means is that in terms of Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) there is no grounds as interpreted by the EEOC for claiming some sort of discrimination towards protected classes. It isn’t discriminatory of a company to mandate all employees be vaccinated. But that’s a rather narrow criteria for determining whether a company should be allowed to make such a requirement in the first place. All the EEOC is really focused on is whether such a mandate would be unfair to protected groups, and it’s pretty obvious that it wouldn’t be if it’s being applied evenly to all employees (instead of targeting certain groups) and accommodations are made for those who may have legally protected exceptions from such a mandate.

But shouldn’t all Americans be legally protected from being forced to get a vaccination (or any other specific health procedure) to keep their job? It might be easy to say from the outside that if you don’t like that particular policy, quit and go work someplace else. But anyone actually working (or who ever has actually worked for someone other than the government) understands that it’s hardly that simple. And if all employers decide to require such a vaccination, how does that impact personal liberties?

These are all questions unique to America. Many Americans don’t seem to understand this. It makes life as an American in America more complicated. But those complications are deemed warranted in order to protect something valuable – personal liberty. As we’ve learned after 9/11 and today in an age where fear is increasingly being promoted and used to drive people towards approving certain policies, personal liberty is difficult to obtain, easy to cede, and effectively impossible to take back once ceded. So these questions and issues are important to think through carefully, and to ensure that what is required of people either by the private sector or the government is as narrow and limited and carefully defined as possible. Precedents are being set in a time of panic, and once that panic is over the precedents will remain and will be used as justification for further erosions of personal liberty in the name of safety or convenience or whatever else seems effective.

GetReligion

May 22, 2021

That’s not intended to be proselytizing (though of course I would be the first to advocate not simply for religion but Christianity). Rather, it’s the name of a great web site dedicated to analyzing media reports on various subjects and topics to point out the “ghosts” in mainstream media – places where religion could have been brought into the report but wasn’t, presumably because liberal media has no interest in talking about religion, or when reporters simply appear to be ignorant about the religious dimensions of a story.

I’ve been following this site for over a decade and greatly appreciate their examination of the media. In case you’ve forgotten, give them a check out!

“How Do You Spell Billiyuns?”

May 21, 2021

Shout out to my all-time favorite comic strip, Bloom County for the title and Carl Sagan for the inspiration beyond that.

Just a little side note to the whole discussion of making vaccines near mandatory, if not by government fiat then by the private market (insistence on proof of vaccinations in order to fly, etc.). There are nine new individual billionaires in the world, executives at major pharmaceutical companies who created and are selling COVID vaccines. The article doesn’t mention how many new millionaires there are related to vaccine production but it seems reasonable to assume there might be more than nine. The article also doesn’t indicate how close these nine people were to the billionaire mark prior to the COVID vaccine production, which I personally would have found relevant and interesting.

I’m not against companies and executives making a profit. I think this is a good incentive to innovate, create, etc. I don’t have definite thoughts on what sort of profit margins are reasonable (like the 30% profit margin the article cites for COVID vaccines). But it does make me itchy when there’s heavy public pressure and possibly even insistence to buy or use a particular product that someone is profiting off of. And I’m sure that 30% profit margin keeps some poorer nations from having access to the vaccines, something some of the companies try to address later in the article by promising 2 billion doses for poorer countries later this year.

I’m trying to think of another situation where people are pushed hard or required to purchase a product or service near universally. Car insurance is the first thing that comes to mind, though I suspect that market is somewhat regulated (does anyone know if this is true?). Still, I could opt not to drive and not have to pay for car insurance then. There are other transportation options available that make this realistic (depending on where you actually live).

Are there other examples that come to mind?

Beyond this, it makes me wonder what kind of pressure comes into play from lobbyists for these companies to keep the vaccine push on as long as possible, including the boosters they are now starting to talk about. Although some people like to talk about just following the science (at least until science says it’s OK to not wear masks if you’re fully vaccinated) reality is a lot more complicated than that.

And a lot more profitable.

End of an Age

May 20, 2021

Roughly 25 years ago I made my first major career transition, moving from a network support role for a major private educational institution to a small company providing cutting edge IT training primarily to corporate customers. I became known within this new company as the Internet expert, though I doubt my credentials were a lot better than most of the other trainers. However my familiarity with the Internet from the pre-World Wide Web version we’re all familiar with today was considered deeply qualifying to make me the Internet expert.

I was sent to Redmond, Washington to be trained by Microsoft, Inc. on their new web browser – Internet Explorer. I had cut my teeth on UNIX command line interfaces and then moved to NCSA Mosaic and then Netscape when the World Wide Web began to be a thing beyond the limited scope of university pages and home pages dedicated to pets.

It was heady and exciting to be sent off for training by the premiere software company in the world. But it also seemed crazy. Someone was going to challenge Netscape’s practically universal dominance of the browser market? After Microsoft had essentially ignored the potential importance of the emerging Internet? Crazy! And yet, a quarter century later IE is still running out there while Netscape is long dead and buried.

I’ve long since moved beyond Internet Explorer. For years I made Google my default browser, enchanted with their early mantra/mission statement of Don’t be evil. They have discovered that this is harder than it might seem, and so I’ve been looking for an alternative. I’ve experimented with Firefox and other options but laziness always drove me back to Google. But now, on my latest laptop, I’ve decided not to download the Google browser and utilize the on-board alternative , Microsoft Edge – the successor to Internet Explorer.

No complaints thus far. Hopefully it’s sucking up less personal data than Google was, but I won’t be shocked to find that’s not the case. But in any event, it’s sad to see that Microsoft has definitely, finally announced the end of support for Internet Explorer. The end of an age…multiple ages perhaps, at least in technology terms.

You’re Welcome

May 19, 2021

Not that I think Dr. Fauci is monitoring my blog, but it was fascinating today to see articles reporting him saying that boosters – third shots – will likely be necessary for people who have already had their two initial doses. In the ongoing struggle to get good information, we are once again fed confusing and contradictory information.

Vaccine efficacy lasts “at least” six months according to Dr. Fauci. He then goes on to assert it is likely to last much longer. I’ve seen more than a few articles over the last year contradicting him, but I don’t know if those articles were specific to the efficacy in patients who recovered from COVID or those who had received the vaccines. I suspect it’s probably the former since the vaccines have been available for such a short time, but I’m curious about his optimism.

The article links to another article from March 2021 (updated in April), which affirms among other things that six months is the longest timeframe recipients of the vaccines had been studied prior to widespread deployment. The article expresses optimism that antibodies and immunity actually will last much longer, but provides no data to support this other than anecdotal evidence from other mRNA trials and experiments. While I hope the optimism is proved accurate, it still seems pretty early for such leaps. And Dr. Fauci’s statements about boosters make it clear that this is more likely the case.

Still no addressing of those who have actually had and recovered from COVID – nearly 10% of the US population alone – other than to insist they should also get the vaccine without any substantive discussion of the antibodies produced in those who have had COVID compared to those who are vaccinated.

But for now, regardless of whether you’ve had COVID or had vaccines, be aware your antibodies aren’t necessarily going to last forever and you’re going to need to get either full vaccinations or boosters – at least until we know more about what we’re dealing with.