Didn’t have to be this way

Muhammad Ali lighting the Olympic flame was probably the highlight of the 1996 Games for me. That and the bombing are the only things that linger. Image found on Atlanta Magazine.

It’s been a long while since I’ve watched the Olympics. I think the last time it was more than a couple of isolated events might have been 1996, when I was working for a TV station during the Atlanta Olympics.

I was always more of a fan of the Winter Games, mainly because I love watching ice skating and skiing … oh, that scenery. But the Summer Olympics … well, it’s summer.

It’s my least favorite season, as I was not made for heat; plus, fair skin and the tendency to burn means blisters and peeling skin might not be far behind. Been there, don’t want to do it again. And I mean ever. I got a slight burn on my neck recently while mowing and got flashbacks to that one summer camping trip (my last one) with severe sunburn and leeches. Ewwww.

So with the Tokyo Olympics going on now (ill-advisedly) in the middle of yet another surge, this time with the more infectious Delta variant, I’m only checking out the occasional news alert. (Man, that was rough for Simone Biles having to pull out, but she was already a winner before she ever got there.) With no spectators and no friends or family allowed to accompany the athletes, it just doesn’t feel like the Olympics. Polls in Japan before the Games started showed a vast majority in favor of postponing, as was done in 2020, or canceling them altogether. I’m with them.

The Tokyo Games don’t even seem real to me. Image found on USA Today.

The sad thing is that so many of the things that have been going on lately didn’t have to be this way.

👉 If we had, early in the pandemic, focused not on blame but on fighting the pathogen. The rush by certain individuals to blame it on a malicious act by the Chinese rather than waiting for the results of the investigation of its origin (which takes time and patience) muddied the waters, both for the investigators and for those attempting to come up with a plan to fight the virus. Once the genetic profile of the virus became available, all focus should have been on a vaccine, but for politicians who saw something to be exploited, the blame was more important. We can’t get back that wasted time.

Sure, sounds accurate. Image found on Bored Panda.

👩‍🔬 If we understood that, with a new virus (which this is), scientists learn information as they go along, and that some early recommendations in this pandemic, like those on masks, were based on preserving as many of the N95 masks as possible for front-line medical workers because of an estimated shortage, and that as new information and ramped-up PPE manufacture changed the overall picture, medical advice changed with it. In a pandemic with a new virus, shifting advice is expected, but only if it’s based on science, not politics.

Maybe the best thing that’s come of this whole mess is that Dr. Fauci got fed up with being misrepresented for political gain. Taking on people like Rand Paul for their irresponsible spread of misinformation gives me hope. Still, some people have made a profession of making him the scapegoat for the failures in the pandemic. Image found on Los Angeles Times.

🔬 If we actually listened to the people who’ve spent their lives researching and fighting infectious diseases and viruses rather than politicized pablum meant to soothe someone’s ego. Dr. Anthony Fauci has spent his entire career fighting and researching disease. He was first appointed director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases in 1984 by Ronald Reagan. A brief snip from his bio on the NIAID site:

“Dr. Fauci has advised seven presidents on HIV/AIDS and many other domestic and global health issues. He was one of the principal architects of the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), a program that has saved millions of lives throughout the developing world.

“Dr. Fauci also is the longtime chief of the Laboratory of Immunoregulation. He has made many contributions to basic and clinical research on the pathogenesis and treatment of immune-mediated and infectious diseases. He helped pioneer the field of human immunoregulation by making important basic scientific observations that underpin the current understanding of the regulation of the human immune response. In addition, Dr. Fauci is widely recognized for delineating the precise ways that immunosuppressive agents modulate the human immune response. He developed effective therapies for formerly fatal inflammatory and immune-mediated diseases such as polyarteritis nodosa, granulomatosis with polyangiitis (formerly Wegener’s granulomatosis), and lymphomatoid granulomatosis. A 1985 Stanford University Arthritis Center Survey of the American Rheumatism Association membership ranked Dr. Fauci’s work on the treatment of polyarteritis nodosa and granulomatosis with polyangiitis among the most important advances in patient management in rheumatology over the previous 20 years.”

Anthony S. Fauci, M.D., bio, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (niaid.nih.gov).
Dr. Kizzmekia Corbett of the National Institutes of Health (far right of photo) was instrumental in the development of the Moderna vaccine, and is one of the heroes of the pandemic. Science helps far more than talking out of your ass. Image by Leah Millis, Reuters, found on NBC News.

But yeah, the guy who does doughnuts on your street at 3 a.m. or runs a fake university is far more knowledgeable when it comes to infectious diseases. So’s that former gym owner and current U.S. representative who was removed from her committees and who introduced a bill to fire Fauci … for reasons; the person who believes losing weight will do more to protect someone from covid-19 than vaccination. Yeah.

😷 If we had just followed the public-health guidelines meant to protect everyone (wearing a mask, social distancing, washing your hands, etc.) instead of insisting on our “freedom” … to not wear a mask, to not be vaccinated, to infect others during a pandemic, forgetting (or not caring) that others have the right not to be infected and are taking the precautions that best enable that, but can only do so much against so many virus carriers, as is being demonstrated in Arkansas and other states that seem to think inconvenience is a greater danger than deadly disease. Those of us who follow the advice of actual experts when it comes to a pandemic are attacked and vilified as living in fear … often by people who insist on being armed wherever they go. Sigh.

We could have done those things, and some of us did, but not enough.

This lovely fella reportedly flipped off and pulled a gun from his waistband on a fellow Walmart shopper in Florida after being asked where his mask was (the store at the time required face masks). Image found on Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office Facebook page.

The pro-choice (not pro-abortion; you can be pro-choice without being all rah-rah for abortion) mantra of “my body, my choice” has somehow become the battle cry of those who think that a strip of cloth is an infringement of their rights, as is a vaccine developed beginning in January 2020 under the Trump administration. The fact that so many of those who refuse to be vaccinated insist that the former president get full credit for the vaccine boggles the mind. Never mind that it was scientists who created the vaccines; in the case of Pfizer and Moderna, using an mRNA delivery method worked on for more than 30 years enabled the vaccines to be developed and tested even more quickly, aided by a streamlined Federal Drug Administration process. The former president gets some credit, but his constant fearmongering and misinformation about covid-19, the vaccines and other things pretty much negate that.

And yes, the vaccines were tested on animals. As Associated Press writer Beatrice Dupuy reported Nov. 25, 2020: “Due to the urgent need for a vaccine in a surging pandemic, Pfizer and Moderna were given approval to simultaneously test their vaccines on animals while they were conducting Phase 1 trials on humans. The vaccines were tested on mice and macaques.

“‘They overlapped pre-clinical studies with the early phases of the trials,’ said Dr. William Moss, executive director for the International Vaccine Access Center at Johns Hopkins University. ‘In fact, one of the reasons we are even talking about vaccines now just 10 months later is that some of the phases in which vaccine development normally occurs were overlapped rather than done sequentially.’”

Cole Smith of Georgia gets a third vaccine shot, tweaked to hopefully address variants and serve as a booster. He got the Moderna vaccine in a first-phase trial a year ago. AP photo by Ben Gray found on Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

But the vaccines are still only under emergency approval, right? Why take them? Because we’re in an emergency.

To gain that emergency approval, Rachel Fritts of Science wrote last week, “vaccine manufacturers had to follow a special set of guidelines that asked for safety and efficacy data from clinical trials involving tens of thousands of participants, as well as information on vaccines’ quality and consistency.”

Some 75,000 people participated in the clinical trials, which showed the vaccines to be safe and effective.

Pfizer and Moderna have applied for full approval (Johnson & Johnson is expected to follow), but that may take months, even under priority review, and if the vaccines are given full approval (they likely will), they will be pretty much the same as those given now; the FDA will just be reviewing more trial and real-world data on effectiveness and safety. Meanwhile, the virus will continue to find unvaccinated bodies to infect, and the possibility of even more infectious and deadly variants will rise.

But sure, keep maintaining that it’s better to remain unvaccinated and unmasked and further risk your health and that of others. That whole rights-come-with-responsibilities thing, that’s just bunk.

The amount of ferromagnetic metal needed to actually hold the Baby Yoda magnet there would be far more than could possibly be in even two doses of the vaccine. However, there’s enough sweat and body oil on the skin on an average day to hold something there up to a certain incline (at which point it will fall off). If there were actually metal (not titanium, nickel, aluminum or a lot of other metals, which are not ferromagnetic) of sufficient quantity, the magnet would stick past that incline, and if you tried to remove it, the skin would tent. Image found on FactCheck.org.

Though not as much bunk as the idea that ferromagnetic metals are being injected with the vaccine, enough to make your arm magnetic (it would take an awful lot of metal for that to happen, and the CDC says there are no metals in any of the vaccines, a dose of which is usually about a milliliter; there are about 30 milliliters in an ounce of liquid).

The only reason a magnet stuck to my arm for a fraction of a second was sweat. That sort of thing happens in summer.

Did I mention I don’t really like summer?

Pug’s not a fan of summer, either, I see. Image found on cheezburger.