Operation Warp Speed, the Trump Administration’s newest attempt to quell the rising fear and frustrations of the American people to speed the production of a vaccine for the disease COVID-19. America always has to have a brand for everything doesn’t it? It can’t just do something. America has to come up with a catchy name, a hashtag, a viral marketing campaign, which in the face of a pandemic should be outlawed. I think anyone attempting to go viral on purpose right now is a probably dick and should be quarantined off the internet. But this need to have a gimmick is very important to Americans. How else can we put it on a T-Shirt or a hat and wear it at rallies where Americans can proudly carry on the traditions of disparaging minorities with hypocritical belief systems?
When it comes to Vaccine development I’m fairly certain that speed isn’t the prerogative. Creating a vaccine should be like sex. You shouldn’t rush it. There should be a little courting, which is like researching. You should have a little foreplay, which is what the trials & testing are. Much like condoms, you want to make sure there’s safety involved. Consent is important, and that comes from knowing that there’s mutual understanding of what’s happening by both parties which includes educating people on what the vaccine is, how it was created and making sure we’re all going to have a good time with it. And much like good sex, it should come with no strings attached, like you shouldn’t use sex as a point of control or power or profit. Just like how you shouldn’t try to use this vaccine as a point of control, power and profit. It should be free and available to everyone once it’s developed. Just like sex should be free and available to everyone that consents to it.
Nobody has ever been impressed by how quickly you can come up with a vaccine or sex another person. But in the age of social media & drive-thrus, we demand instancy! That’s why most common phrase at Starbucks Drive-Thru is “It’s been 43 seconds, why am I not burning my lips on a mediocre non-fat, half soy, 22% vanilla, 30% hazelnut latte!” I’m paraphrasing but you get it. Operation Warp Speed is set to have a 100 million vaccinations produced by November and up to 300 million by January. Back in March we were on a 12-18 month timeline, as predicted by global experts. Even Dr. Fauci, the White House commandant of Science, which I do believe is his official title, said that he’s willing to forgo the trials and go right into production to meet the deadline. That’s like raw-dogging someone in an Applebee’s bathroom because they rubbed up against you at the bar. Everyone is going to get sick one way or other because nobody took the time to do things properly!
But the notion of vaccination itself is a controversial topic. There is a growing contingent in America of people denying vaccinations. The group known as Anti-vaxxers have taken to the Internet and have made bold statements about vaccines causing a litany of diseases and even increased death rates, despite the fact that we’ve seen time and time again that the benefits of vaccines out weight the risks. Well when they’re produced with the proper precautions and trials in place and not at Warp Speed.
If I may get nerdy for a second, even when the USS Starship Enterprise went into Warp Speed to stop the Borg from invading planet Earth, they lost a bunch of ships. It wasn’t until they paused and executed a well formulated plan by working together was the Borg defeated so that they could achieve Warp Speed for the future!
So we have to ask why people would deny the benefits of vaccinations and there are few psychologists that have done studies to find that answer! There are actually various factors involved. And I’m sure there’s a bunch of you rolling your eyes saying “Krish it’s just because they’re dumb! Plain and simple!” And my response is that you’re not helping and I’d suggest rolling your forward and listening rather than being condescending.
And before we go forward, I want to say I’m going to refer to these people as Vaccine Deniers instead of Anti-Vaxxers. I think the term anti-vaxxers creates a bit of a harsh aura around them. The prefix ‘anti’ and the presence of the double X in their name makes it sound like they’re the epidemiologist of the Legion of Doom. If you don’t get that reference I’ll give you a moment to pause the podcast and call one of your nerd friends to explain the reference. And if you did get that reference, congrats this podcast has always been for you. So I’m going to call them Vaccine Deniers in this piece.
One of these factors is that these vaccine deniers are prone to is looking only at the negative factors and overestimating risk. This means that these folks are more likely to look a story of a child having a seizure after getting vaccinated despite no evidence suggesting it was the vaccine that caused said seizure and concluding exactly that. They aren’t asking questions to confirm whether their assumptions and hypothesis are true. They operate at Warp Speed to conclude that vaccines cause seizures which then lead autism, and so on and so on. But the question that should be asked in that situation are, what was the medical history of the family and the child? What other factors could’ve been at play to cause a seizure? What causes seizures in the first place? Was it because the child’s parents conceived said child in an Applebee’s bathroom?!
Vaccine Deniers are also looking for confirmation bias. This is the phenomenon where people will ignore or decline information that counters what they want to believe. It’s no different than a good Democrat believing that Joe Biden is competent Presidential Candidate that isn’t failing cognitively and has had horrific policies and legislation that led to the rise of Donald Trump. Operation Warp Speed could also be the name of the study that finds the exponential rate of decline in Biden’s brain. In the same fashion vaccine deniers look at any data showing the larger benefits of vaccines as a false flag and they go back to the stories of harm created by vaccines.
Most vaccine deniers have a huge distrust for anyone or anything that is willing to take any level of their freedom away from them, even if it’s as intangible as logic or kindness. They usually also have a fear of blood or needles and believe in hyper-individualism. In addition to all this, human beings are also shit at statistics; 48% of people know that. Our decisions are made on the fact that we are terrible at assessing the statistics of risk. Humans are more concerned by shark attacks and coconuts falling on their heads than driving to work. All of which have about the same level of risk; 23% of people know that, the rest think the world is 100% in the Sharknado universe. These traits lead folks into the Vaccine denial or anti-vaxxer communities and by shutting out any other information they secure themselves in an information vacuum.
Once they are in the position where lack of trust in any authority that might infringe on their freedoms is at play, the Dunning Kruger effect takes place. Now if you don’t know what the Dunning Kruger effect is, because I didn’t, it’s the phenomenon that makes people think that they have more knowledge with less information. This creates an effect where they double down on their one sided viewpoint and denial of anything that doesn’t confirm their bias. This makes them believe they are superior to scientists, researchers and doctors. Which sucks because we’ve all felt like our college degrees were just $100k pieces of paper with romanesque font, but the vaccine deniers are making doctors face that anxiety with the help of Dunning & Kruger! Look we don’t need a bunch of a sad, anxious doctors right now! We need ones that are going to do be able to help their patients because that’s what they set out to do with their $100k pieces of paper with romanesque fonts!
So what can we do about this situation? Well one suggestion that Dr. Steven Novella of the publication Science-Based Medicine suggests, is we marginalize these folks. By which he means to diminish their thoughts and make them irrelevant from the conversation and possibly mock them. The problem with that is, that it won’t solve anything. Primarily because if we are to really stop the spread of this new virus, we’re going to need everyone to be on board with the vaccine. Calling someone a dipshit or even diminishing their viewpoints from the collective discourse is going to push them deeper into their biases.
Think about this way. When I was kid and my mother would tell me to drink milk, I would say no, because I didn’t like milk. Now my mother could’ve called me stupid for not drink the milk. But I didn’t think I was stupid, so now why would I listen to my mother about the facts of milk. After all she’s wrong about me and is probably wrong about the milk. But after my mother explained that milk would help me grow taller and help me become a strong kid, I was more inclined to tolerate the milk. And later I would even discover chocolate milk, which I think we can all agree is the ultimate form of milk. Rose milk comes in at a very close second.
Vaccine deniers don’t think they’re doing something wrong or that they’re stupid. Rather quite the opposite! They believe they’re helping their families and their children. So therein lies the answer. If we can educate the kids we might be able to get the kids to talk their parents about getting vaccinated. If the kid’s individuality is important, and they wanted to get vaccinated, wouldn’t the parent have to grant that child it’s freedom to make that decision? Now Dr. Novella does propose this as a method as well. I’m more fond of this than the ‘dipshit’ method. By the way I should mention that I do enjoy the Science-Based Medicine publication as they have pretty good articles on their site, despite my disagreements with one or 2 things they’ve said.
But of course none of these argument are even applicable if the vaccine is rushed into production without trials and testing to ensure its safety. Dr. Fauci’s need to meet the January deadline seems as misguided and led by fear as the vaccine deniers themselves. AND if the expectation is that people will stay still with limited access to the outside world till January 2021 with no prospects of an income, no rent or mortgage freezes, the Trump administration truly doesn’t understand how humans operate. Look people are freaking out about haircuts and going back to being wage slaves, and that’s after 2 months, do you really think 8 months of this is going end peacefully?
Besides if the vaccine does come out by November and is giving people more complications and causing more issues, it’s only going to perpetuate the confirmation bias of the Vaccine Deniers and increase their risk overestimation. Why would a scientist want to do that? It doesn’t make any logical sense and we should asking Dr. Fauci to reconsider this warp speed science. Dr. Fauci should be advocating for rent, mortgage and debt freezes, mixed in with Universal Basic Income and better treatment of essential workers as well as a Medicare for all treatment plan, so we can have a calmer populous so science can have the right amount to time to produce a valid & safe vaccine.
Are vaccines perfect? No, they’re not and we should be pushing the scientific community to create better vaccines, and the scientific communities shouldn’t be driven by the profit motives of sociopathic, sweater wearing billionaires who only care about increasing their bottom lines and stock portfolios as quickly as possibly. Look science builds on itself. So if we can make sure that profit motive and money don’t impede on scientific advancements, we can probably get through this pandemic as a healthier species. The bonus would be that we’d see what how much more we can accomplish when money isn’t used as a limiter and a point of social control.
Without a clear treatment & economic plan with an incremental reopening of the country’s small businesses and recreational activities, a vaccine and any thoughts of normalcy are meaningless. If we don’t have an economic plan to help the working class of America then we might not get to a vaccine before chaos erupts. A treatment plan that isn’t fixated on profit motives will be the transitional step we need to get us back on our feet. Then in 2021 if there is a vaccine that’s not tied to another profit motive we can ensure we keep this virus at bay. After that the only thing we’d have to worry is the pandemic of people fucking in Applebees bathrooms.
Krish Mohan is a socially conscious, Indian standup comedian and writer who regularly tours the country. He performs at small theaters, bars, comedy clubs, colleges, DIY and house venues. With his quirky attitude, charming personality, and intelligent humor, Krish captivates and engages audiences of all backgrounds, tackling hot button topics like race, religion, war, immigration, while adding an optimistic, philosophical & sociological twist!