Apparently, the universe is reading this blog because it’s responded to Sue’s post from two days ago. As long as it’s paying attention, perhaps we could ask for world peace and the healing of the planet. But I am, like Sue, grateful for work of the scientists whose efforts are expanding the protections offered by vaccines to more and more around the globe.
by Sue Robin, Los Angeles, California
My dear friend Laura taught me to write thank you notes to all sorts of people, not just to those who gave me gifts in wrapped boxes. When she fell in love with an author or heard a lecture that amazed her, she would write a note of thanks. Now, if I read an extraordinary book with magical language and a theme that brings tears to my eyes or makes me laugh out loud, I send a note. If a new doctor helps resolve a minor, but long-standing issue, I send a note. Sometimes. it is an in-person thank you, as when I see the clean-up crew in a Ladies Room. Please is indeed the magic word, but Thank you is right up there with its ability to bring a smile and acknowledge another human. Using it also helps me remember and honor the sweetness of a friend now gone.
A couple of days ago, I pleaded with people to call the political powers that be to encourage increased production of vaccines so that not only the rich countries can be vaccinated, but the poor ones as well. In the interim, I have read an article about the newest vaccine being developed, NDV-HXP-S, which has the potential to be a game changer. It can be easily produced in the same fashion as the common flu shot, inexpensively made all over the world, and no royalties will be charged to 80 poor countries so that they can manufacture it at home. It has been shown to be effective in animal trials and is moving on to the other trials now. It won’t fix things rapidly, but if it proves as effective as the scientists believe, it will be an enormous gift to the world.
I offer up my thanks to the scientist who knew to take a second look at his previous work with a vaccine for MERS. Dr. Jason McLellan, now an associate Professor at the University of Texas, and two colleagues, Ilya Finkelstein and Jennifer Maynard, who were able to respond to a global need and negotiated the no royalties demand.
When I read the article, it felt as though the universe had responded to the pleas of all of us who wanted to see not just the USA vaccinated, but all humankind. I have written a letter to Dr. McLellan to thank him for his work. Not something I think a scientist usually receives. While the gift he gave is not wrapped in flowered paper nor topped with a frilly bow, it is one that has the potential to protect life and open the door to widespread vaccine availability worldwide. I am sure just knowing that millions of lives being saved is reward enough, but would it not be an incredible joy for him to receive hundreds, or even thousands, of letters of thanks?
In case you would like yours to be one of them, here’s how to write to him: Jason McLellan, MD, PhD, University of Texas, 100 E. 24th St, Austin, TX 78712. And it has the added benefit of being a boon to the postal service, too!