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OPINION | BRENDA LOOPER: Didn't have to be

by Brenda Looper | July 28, 2021 at 3:36 a.m.
Brenda Looper

It's been a long while since I've watched the Olympics.

I was always more of a fan of the Winter Games, mainly because I love watching ice skating and skiing. 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.

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. 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.

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.

If we understood that, with a new virus, 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.

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.

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.

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

The pro-choice 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.

And yes, they 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.'"

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 the vaccines will be 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.

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). 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?

Assistant Editor Brenda Looper is editor of the Voices page. Read her blog at Email her at

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