Every day I thank God for men and women in the sciences who see the COVID-19 virus as the challenge of a generation and are doing all they can to find both a vaccine and a treatment.
I believe the Creator of the universe gifted mankind with a similar but more limited capacity to explore and create with the minds we are given. God blesses our curiosity and our need to explore and push against the limits of our knowledge. Scientists unknowingly are living out some of the potential God gave to humankind even when they are not believers. So, today, we are moving closer to a response to the COVID-19 virus.
Yesterday, I saw the notification that Pfizer has submitted paperwork for emergency authorization for a vaccine it has created with 95% efficacy and no major or minor side effects. Closely behind that is the Moderna vaccine, also with 95% efficacy and no major or minor side effects. Both are a new class of medications first attempted in cancer treatment but borrowed for this virus. It is called mRNA.
Pfizer indicates it could begin inoculations as soon as Dec. 13. Its vaccine requires two injections 20 days apart. The priority is on health care workers, first responders and folks with underlying health issues.
Anthony Fauci notes these breakthroughs when he predicts that we could reach large-scale immunity by sometime around April to July. As I understand it, this means enough people will have contracted the virus and are no longer susceptible to infection, or will have gained immunity because of vaccines — or a combination of both. Achieving such a high rate of vaccination would protect those who cannot be vaccinated.
I am proudly a child of vaccinations. I remember the Salk polio vaccine, which my mom took us to get. At that time, polio was one of the most dangerous viruses for children. As the years rolled on and more vaccines became available, our family took advantage of those as my wife, Anna, and I did when we had our children. Most recently, we have taken the shingles vaccine and the pneumonia vaccine. I am a proud child of vaccines.
At our age, we take the flu vaccine every year. Only recently did I learn from my family physician why this yearly ritual is not entirely successful. Apparently 40% to 50% efficacy is enough for a vaccine to be distributed. So, between predicting the right strain of the influenza and getting the shot, may folks still get the flu but for most folks it is not life threatening.
“Perhaps we could consider the coming COVID vaccine an early Christmas present from our scientific and medical communities.”
So there is cause to rejoice. Perhaps we could consider the coming COVID vaccine an early Christmas present from our scientific and medical communities.
However, there is more good news. Eli Lilly has received emergency authorization for two medications to treat those who have been hospitalized with COVID-19. Baricitinib and Bamlanvimab both have been approved to treat those suffering from the virus and hospitalized. I am reasonably certain these are only the beginnings for both vaccines and treatment drugs.
The takeaways from this news is very important.
First, scientists and physicians knowledgeable of the field of immunology continue to stress the value of frequent hand washing, wearing masks in public, and social distancing. Refusing to wear a mask is not a demonstration of your right to exercise your freedom; rather it is a clear admission you are stupid. And that stupidity puts others — including your loved ones — at risk. Don’t act like the rebellious teenager who just needs to throw off all restraints to show they can. Be a good neighbor. And if you are a believer, think of others and wear your mask.
“Refusing to wear a mask is not a demonstration of your right to exercise your freedom; rather it is a clear admission you are stupid.”
Second, do not grow weary in well doing. These are days when suffering is not equal. It really never is. Anna and I are not feeling the loss of income, but many are. We are not sick, but some are. We are not struggling to pay bills, but some are.
The best Christmas gift believers could give our families is a lesson in the whole meaning of Christ coming down and being born in a manager. He was and is our first greatest gift. He is the very incarnation of sacrifice. His humble birth was followed years later by his atoning death. Suppose, knowing the struggle of others during this time, we minimized our spending on ourselves and instead found ways to help others stay in their homes, pay their rent, pay their utilities? What a life lesson that would be for our children. I know it was for me as a child.
Finally, realizing the times in which we live and the anxiety and depression that have settled on these COVID-19 days, we can do a couple of actions: make sure our neighbors are all right and pray for them. There are a lot of lonely adults without a significant family connection during these days. Trying times often show the poverty of our connections.
“Trying times often show the poverty of our connections.”
Second, listen for needs and opportunities. Recently my oldest son’s family took in a coworker at one of his boy’s employment. I followed the progress of the opportunity and when it was done and the young man was settled, I expressed my deep admiration for what he and his wife and sons had done. His remark? “Just being the hands and feet of Jesus.”
These are difficult days that give us the opportunity to be the hands and feet of Jesus. These are days when we have the opportunity to realize how we are connected to one another. These are days in which the smallest kindness can give the greatest blessing.
So while we are waiting, let us be active in our waiting. While we await the return of the King, let us await our time to be vaccinated with actions, prayers and unusual kindness to others.
Wash your hands, wear your mask for others, mind the gap, and be kind.
Michael Chancellor served 33 years as pastor of four Baptist churches in Texas, seven years as a mental health manager in a maximum-security Texas prison and now is a therapist in private practice in Round Rock, Texas.