Thoughts by Kimatni D. Rawlins

Virology, the study of viruses, is not your everyday career path for young black students. So meet viral immunologist Kizzmekia Corbett, aka Kizzy, who at age 34 is the lead scientist behind the mRNA vaccine which has the goal of formulating a spike protein to create an immune system response, that then produces antibodies to help the body stave off the coronavirus. It does not utilize covid-19 (CV-19) germs therefore the vaccine is not injecting the virus into your arm like familiar vaccines we are accustomed to.

At age 26, she started her career at NIH and immediately began working on coronavirus vaccines. Black, scientist, female, and early 20s doesn’t even equate to a possible career path in our community. Yet, Kizzy’s credentials are commendable enough for the Noble Peace Prize.

But there is work to be done as vaccine hesitancy is heightened and painful memories of the “Tuskegee Syphilis Study” are brought to the forefront. Although the 601 black Alabama men were not injected with the venereal disease (they already had it) the government lied to them and their families about the diagnosis. Subsequently, it did not treat the duped participants from 1932 to 1972 while many died or lived horrible lives, including the loss of eyesight even when penicillin was discovered as a treatment. Albeit, some surviving family members say they have no problem taking today’s vaccine because the narratives are dissimilar; CV-19 vaccine treatment verse syphilis non-treatment.

The choice is yours whether to get vaccinated or not when available for non-essential citizens this summer. But keep in mind Blacks are being negatively affected the most by CV-19 because of our prior lifestyle choices and preexisting diseases. So ask yourself if you have ill feelings towards the vaccine, will you also reframe from inhibiting your immune system from the consumption of sodas, alcohol, sugary snacks, drugs, processed foods, fried foods, tobacco, red meats, dairy, etc? Let’s not forget how much diabetes, hypertension, and heart disease ravages our communities.

I myself have always used natural remedies and veggie foods to keep me on top of my health game. But even the fittest and most youthful individual has died from Covid-19. So I won’t allow ignorance to dominate my mindset. In the case of 2020’s Pandemic, I believe science should take the lead on this one, not conspiracy theories, conjecture or assumptions. Either or, Kizzy is someone to respect for her devotion to virology that can lead to the reduction of the world’s major viruses.

Kizzmekia Corbett Interview with Dr Sanjay Gupta – Lead vaccine developer says she wants to help rebuild trust brick by brick