Contact Form

    News Details

    RFK Jr. versus the genius Nobelists
    • October 14, 2023

    In recent weeks, Bobby Kennedy Jr. published a co-authored book, “Vax-Unvax: Let the Science Speak,” which does not let the science speak, but rather traffics in the same kind of conspiracy theories he often spins about Bill Gates and the supposed dangers of getting vaccinated against killer diseases such as COVID-19 — the miraculous vaccines against which are gorgeously effective — using discredited studies that if heeded would put millions of lives around the world in jeopardy.

    Also in recent weeks, COVID vaccine pioneers Katalin Karikó and Drew Weissman won the Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine for their brilliant work in the lab that led to the development of anti-coronavirus vaccines swiftly administered to billions of people around the world, bringing an end to the worst part of the pandemic that we would still be in the throes of without their genius.

    Let’s see, who should I celebrate here, the rich-kid whack job with the oddly circa-1963 skinny ties and permanent hoarse voice on the hustings, or the two selfless scientists whose dogged efforts saved the world’s collective bacon?

    I think I’ll let the science speak.

    Remember when COVID first began its killer path around the world, mowing down whole swaths of the population, from infants to mostly old folks, from Italian villages to nursing homes in the Bronx? When the concept of creating a vaccine against the disease was first broached, the common wisdom was that the problem at hand was that it would take years to develop and test them.

    Whereas in fact, in a matter of months, both Moderna and Pfizer BioNTech vaccines were developed and made available, and they worked — not necessarily preventing getting COVID, which many of us did, but dramatically reducing the disease’s severity, so that when vaccinated people such as your columnist got it, we basically had the sniffles for a couple of days rather than dying in the ICU, our lungs filled up with liquid.

    Reading the news stories about the new Nobelists many of us learned the real reason behind the dichotomy: Scientists such as Karikó and Weissman actually drew on decades of painstaking work they had quietly been doing to chemically tweak so-called messenger RNA in our bodies in order to create the supposedly “instant” versions of the two major vaccines.

    The pair began to work together as far back as 1998, when they were fighting for access to a photocopy machine at the University of Pennsylvania. They discovered a shared interest in what was thought to be the eccentric notion that mRNA could be used to develop a vaccine against HIV and AIDS.

    “The mRNA was delicate, so much so that when it was introduced to cells, the cells instantly destroyed it. Grant reviewers were not impressed,” The New York Times reported.

    But Karikó, who long languished as an adjunct professor unable to get funding, and Weissman persevered. They overcame the initial problems. And in so doing they “fundamentally changed our understanding of how mRNA interacts with our immune system,” according to the Nobel panel, and “contributed to the unprecedented rate of vaccine development during one of the greatest threats to human health in modern times.”

    Whereas RFK Jr.? His new book scoffs at the Nobelists’ work that eliminated so much misery because the COVID vaccines are indeed new and “experimental” and can contain aluminum and mercury like the childhood vaccines he has made his bones railing against. I’ll side with getting the sniffles rather than dying a horrible unvaxed death, Bobby.

    Larry Wilson is on the Southern California News Group editorial board. [email protected].

    ​ Orange County Register