♪ The thousand times I lived before were just in my dreams
Well, I woke up to realize it didn’t mean a thing
I’ve seen several better places, several better times
Somehow those memories got left behind ♪
— As always, Son Volt rules while Wilco drools1
As Common Era years go, 2021 does not stand out as conspicuously uncommon. Plagues, perfidious politics, and pending penury have proliferated like Picochlorum2 since the mythohistorical December 25th birth of the allegorical figure Christians revere. Weekend Politics Thread habitues only happened to habitually remark upon the fading annum’s horribilis-ness3 because they mucked through the mire.
Still, the past 12 month undeniably sucked by nearly any measure taken at pretty much every scale. Emotional, physical and financial blows continuing to rain down after a preceding year of pandemic, economic upheaval and galloping theocracy-flavored authoritarianism did not help.
Skipping past the montage of misery, malevolence and mayhem to arrive at the de rigueur4 recounting of 2021 highpoints highlights exactly three things, all occurring in the past week.
First and second,5 two antiviral medications received FDA approval for reducing COVID-19 symptoms to point of prevent practically all hospitalizations. Don’t expect widespread availability of either pill until around this time in 2022. Do hang a hope on eventually making COVID-19 something similar to the flu denialists claimed.
In even better and almost criminally underreported news, a Walter Reed Army Institute of Research team announced the formulation of a vaccine offering immunity against a broad spectrum of “SARS-CoV-2 variants and SARS-origin variants.” Lab directors took pains to clarify how no omicron-specific testing occurred. Still, accurate reporting indicates the world may soon have access to a Tolkienesque one vax to rule them all.
Dubbed SpFN, which Uvular chooses to pronounce “spiffin’,” the Spike Ferritin Nanoparticle vaccine platform shows high effectiveness for protecting against symptomatic diseases linked to exposure to each known and predicted form of the coronavirus responsible for our current woes. Go Army, indeed.
Military spending and troops deployments draw much deserved criticism in these threads and elsewhere. Then, Pentagon-funded medicos pull a trick like saving billions of lives at pennies on the dollar of what private sector biotech companies would charge.
SpFN makes a strong case for primary research under the aegis of, well, defense.6 Focus less on how Big Pharma will contrive to receive patents and reap profits on producing the Army’s vaccine. Concentrate on how uniformed personnel and civilians defense workers advanced medical science in a way no one else could. Call that a gift, even if the Pentagon ends up giving life with one hand as it remorseless takes lives with the other.
Merry morally conflicted solstice celebration!