The pandemic is turning out better than many expected, and worse than many feared.
The same is true of the vaccines.
If that sounds oxymoronic (good and bad), consider two major aspects of the pandemic.
First, it has not killed with the lethality of the influenza pandemic from 1918 to 1920, despite the U.S. president last week calling covid the “darkest moment in American history.” The Spanish flu of a century ago caused an estimated 675,000 deaths. Thus far the coronavirus has led to an official count of 550,000. But the U.S. population in 1918 was just 103 million (versus 330 million now). While it lowered the life expectancy by a full year in 2020, covid is thus three times less deadly.
In the past two months, the infection rate has dropped by half.
That’s one side of the equation.
The other is cloaked in mystery: the fact that we have no idea about the long-term effects, just many indications that are ominous.
A significant number of people who contracted covid a year ago are still suffering — and there are those who were infected and were asymptomatic (showed no symptoms) and yet — a year later — seem to have profound health issues, from damaged lungs to heart trouble. That’s not like typical flu.
It remains a mystery, this covid thing, like a demon in the air. Unseen. Mean. Leading to: nations in quarantine. A mystery, that is, except to those who have an agenda that includes making this thing seem worse than it is, or those who, on the other end of the teeter-totter, declare anything to be “fake news” if it doesn’t fit into their narrative.
A dark moment — or simply a puzzle wrapped in an enigma, confounding a society that was sure it knew it all, especially from a scientific vantage point?
An agonizing conundrum also. This is part of the punishment, the unknown aspects. Those who claim to have the clear-cut answers are expressing viewpoints, not presenting full information.
Some vaccines, especially from places like China and India, are certainly questionable from a safety standpoint (in general, we don’t like vaccines), while others are totally compromised by their link with production that involved aborted-fetus cell lines. The two most prominent ones in North America used such cell lines for testing (though not final production).
What’s more “immoral”: a vaccine that, however indirectly, has the vague scent of abortion, or refusing vaccination in a way that prevents mass immunity and therefore could cause human deaths (this time, adult ones)? Bishops have asked this question (we believe it is fine to reject it). But if, as seems very possible, the coronavirus had origins in a lab, do we not have to fend it off with something equally lab-created (since our natural defenses would be more perplexed than by natural pathogens)?
On the other end: Might some of the ingredients in the vaccines, or the finagling with genetic material (RNA), cause health issues far down the road (even cancer)?
No one can know. No one knows this about the vast majority of pharmaceuticals — the long-term effects. Unfortunately, there’s no way of ascertaining such information at this point and won’t be even ten years from now. Health care workers, caretakers in nursing homes, and police officers — who have witnessed the worst effects of the pandemic — have declined to be vaccinated at unexpectedly high rates.
Reports Associated Press this morning: “A Florida correctional officer polled his colleagues earlier this year in a private Facebook group: ‘Will you take the COVID-19 vaccine if offered?’ The answer from more than half: ‘[Heck] no.’ Only 40 of the 475 respondents said yes. In Massachusetts, more than half the people employed by the Department of Correction declined to be immunized. A statewide survey in California showed that half of all correction employees will wait to be vaccinated.”
One matter seems definite: the AstraZeneca vaccine is a problem both because it uses abortion cell lines in actual production, and due to concerns over its possible health effects (blood clotting). W.H.O. is investigating this, and several European nations have suspended use of it. In the U.S. two cases of relatively young people dying after vaccination (it was not clear which vaccine) are also under inquiry, though the government thus far reports that of the first 13.7 million doses of Pfizer and Moderna, just 640 serious cases of adverse reactions have been reported. Severe reactions are in line with other vaccines (about 4.5 cases per million, if government data is accurate).
Meanwhile, the questions causing such a fog around coronavirus lead to questions about other pharmaceuticals and products derived directly or indirectly from use of fetal cell lines.
The skincare brand Neocutis incorporates cells from that fetal line as a proprietary ingredient in some of their anti-aging products. The medication regeneron (used when Donald Trump, who now has been vaccinated, was treated for covid) was produced through fetal-cell testing.
A website called Rehumanize International goes on this rift:
“In the food and beverage industry, biotech company Senomyx uses the cell line HEK-293 for research and development of new flavor additives. To be clear, they are not adding fetal cells into food or beverages. Rather, they use the flavor receptors in the kidney cells of a female fetus aborted in the 1970s as tireless taste testers. This allows Senomyx to efficiently test new formulations of flavor or scent additives, to produce the most flavor with the least amount of sugar and salt. Companies that have developed products with Senomyx include Ajinomoto, Nestle, and Firmenich.
“Other companies — such as Kraft, Solae, Campbell Soup, and Pepsi — have changed or canceled their contracts with Senomyx to ensure that no fetal cells were used to develop their products.
“Fetal cell lines are used most extensively in the medical industry, in testing, production, and treatment. Fetal cells have been used to test treatments for some degenerative conditions, such as Parkinson’s disease.
“The vaccines for chicken pox, rubella, and shingles are examples of vaccines that use fetal cells in their production process.
“Not all vaccines are produced in this way, and there are some ethical alternatives that don’t use these cell lines in their creation. Some prescription medications, such as Enbrel and Pulmozyme, actually contain fetal cells as an ingredient. The implantation of fetal cells into the body, similar to the process of transplanting an organ, is being explored as a potential cure for ailments such as retinitis pigmentosa.”
Now that’s both clear-cut and reprehensible.
Oh, the covid lessons that have not been learned. Our reaction to this “tap on the shoulder”? Instead of donning sackcloth (and fasting), for more than a year now governments have flooded the zone with money, and then more money, incredible quantities of cash; money that is as phantasmagoric in its origin as covid, coming like the coronavirus out of thin air and leading to an uncertain end.