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Dear Mr. Sherman,
Thank you for sharing the very endearing story of a childhood favorite song but you are unfortunately out of place in tying this story to today’s COVID vaccine issue. Polio is not COVID and I believe that the world would consider that disease significantly more sinister than COVID today. Over 15 years of research and donations from ordinary households through the March of Dimes rose to meet that challenge. Two different technical approaches were developed (Dr. Salk’s live and Dr. Sabin’s killed virus strains) and the Salk test trial alone included over 600,000 children. The country vaccinated their children in a mass but voluntary program. Mistakes were made with both versions including vaccine induced polio and contamination (from the over 100,000 rhesus monkey used to make the vaccine) and hundreds of children suffered lifelong paralysis or death. I would also like to add that both vaccine inventors, Jonas Salk and Albert Sabin, gave their formulas to the world for free. In short, I can see in the polio story a sinister and deadly disease affecting our youngest children, a nation of households willing to donate money to develop a vaccine, a country that undertook a massive testing program and then administering to the world voluntarily.
No doubt COVID is a serious threat and a pandemic, yet it does not pull on our heart strings enough to wear masks or keep social distance let alone donate to a charitable organization founded to develop a vaccine. We see two varying techniques in vaccine development, one new to the world of science, yet with a miniscule testing population. We ask governments to give billions of dollars to biotech companies to help fund their research and vaccine development, that they, in turn, will sell on the marketplace for significant financial gain to their inventors and patent rights holders. A manufacturing mistake has already occurred and fortunately caught in time. Finally, we are even entertaining the idea that vaccinations should be mandatory.
Clearly, these two stories don’t match. It would be more productive to point to things done right in vaccinating the world’s children beginning in the late 1950’s such as significantly large test populations, international collaboration, scientific debate, participation of grass roots organizations like the March of Dimes, and a particular lack of financial incentives on the part of the inventors.
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