“In case anyone is curious,” says American astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, “right now in the USA, every ten days, more than 8,000 unvaccinated Republican voters are dying of Covid-19. That’s five times the rate for Democrats.” What the eminent scientist doesn’t mention is that many of those Democrats are dying because they are living in a quagmire of unvaccinated Republicans. No one needs to die from coronavirus, really.
The United States leads the world with 662,853 total deaths from coronavirus. Despite overwhelming scientific consensus, vaccine hesitancy is common in America, particularly among the deliberately ignorant. One of the most significant correlations of vaccine hesitancy is partisanship. Republicans are far less likely to report getting or intending to get the vaccine than independents and Democrats. Statistics show that 46% of Republicans refuse to get the Covid-19 vaccine, compared with 6% of Democrats and 31% of independents.
And yet vaccination among prominent American politicians of all parties is extremely high. All living presidents past and present have been vaccinated, including Trump who was vaccinated in secret. All 50 American governors (including Ron DeSantis and Greg Abbott) have been vaccinated. Every Democrat in both houses of Congress have been vaccinated. All but 3 Republicans of the 100 United States Senators have been vaccinated. It’s unclear how many Republican Congresswomen and Congressmen have been vaccinated because some refuse to say.
Vaccine hesitancy is largely a disease of the ignorant Republican base. Republicans don’t know what to do with it. It is a monster of their very own creation. They must temper their encouragement of their constituents to get vaccinated with caveats about “freedom” and other irrelevant excrement because they are terrified of losing their cushy jobs.
It’s pathetically easy to refute all the common ignorance about vaccines. Thirty seconds with Google and ten minutes of reading will refute every single piece of nonsense fuelling vaccine hesitancy. I can tell you from personal experience that conspiracy theorists refuse to do this. They won’t spend five minutes doing any research, not even if it will save their lives. Above all else they prefer their ignorance.
For example, there is much ignorance about the role of mRNA in vaccines. Most vaccines contain a weakened or killed bacteria or virus. However, scientists have developed a new type of vaccine that uses a molecule called messenger RNA (or mRNA for short) instead of an actual bacteria or virus. Many anti-vaxxers think this new method is dangerous. It’s not. They are deliberately ignorant of how mRNA works, preferring to listen to Fred the carpenter whose Facebook page is full of memes about how stupid the “sheep” who get vaccinated are rather than listening to actual scientists who actually know what they’re taking about.
Once cells finish making a protein, they quickly break down the mRNA. Messenger RNA from vaccines does not enter the nucleus and does not alter DNA. It does not linger, it does not remain behind.
It is commonly thought by ignorant anti-vaxxers that scientists have no idea how long it will take your body to break down mRNA. Yes they do. It will take approximately two weeks for your body to break down the mRNA. This is a scientific fact known by biologists across the world. No “dangerous” antibody producing mRNA will remain in your system forever. This is easy to check.
It takes 30 seconds to locate all this on the internet. It takes another ten minutes of reading. You don’t have to be a research scientist to understand it, either. There are plenty of picture-driven explanations for people who have trouble understanding the concepts. It’s not hard. Anyone can do it.
Anti-vaxxers would rather not do any reading of anything except the excrement that confirms their absurdly easy-to-defeat bias. They won’t do it to save their lives, the lives of their children or the lives of their neighbours. But because they vote, Republican politicians refuse to educate them. The politicians are afraid of them.
So there you are, brothers and sisters, a direct correlation between cowardice, ignorance and death. Cowardice tolerates ignorance and ignorance will kill you. Don’t be a coward and a fool. Get vaccinated. And, as ever, ladies and gentlemen, brothers and sisters, comrades and friends, stay safe.
Robert Harrington is an American expat living in Britain. He is a portrait painter.