A Primer for the Media on Viruses, Vaccines, and Covid-19, for Roger W. Koop

From a medical standpoint, the Covid-19 response was a massive and foolish overreaction. From Roger W. Koop at aier.org:

tutorial, reporter

2020 is a year when many things besides people have died, or at least placed on indefinite life support. Music and most arts and culture (at least audience-based), education, a person`s livelihood, social trust and interaction, common sense and common decency, debate, and we can include responsible journalism to the list.

In fact, responsible journalism was one of the first casualties of 2020 and bears responsibility for much of the rest.

My path to 2020 was unusual, to say the least, but it prepared me to deal with the events that have transpired. Each step of my career as a scientist I chose a path which led me to 2020. Here are some examples:

  • My two leading choices for the Ph.D. program in chemistry were at the University of Southern California (USC), where I had interviewed with Professor George A. Olah (Nobel Prize in Chemistry, 1992), and the University of California, Riverside (UCR). I chose UCR and Professor M. Mark Midland, who had earned his degree with Professor Herbert C. Brown (Nobel Prize in Chemistry, 1979) and was young, enthusiastic, and broad-based in his interests . If I had chosen and been able to study with Dr. Olah, my career would have been set but much more narrowly focused. I chose Dr. Midland and I have never regretted the choice.
  • With the Ph.D. in hand, I had a choice of academia (the expected route) or industry. I chose industry, specifically, the pharmaceutical industry since I had always been interested in medicinal applications and medicine in general.
  • In industry, I chose development over research based upon the unique challenges.
  • Later, I chose to move out of direct scientific work and into Quality Assurance. Part of this choice was the opportunity to learn new things.
  • Still later, I chose to move into Biopharmaceuticals and vaccines in particular. This afforded me a new opportunity at learning.
  • Finally, I moved into consulting to try and use my experience to assist others in the industry.

The last company I worked for was a vaccine company, as Director of QA. For those that do not understand, being responsible for Quality Assurance is an immense task. You have to be both an expert and a judge.

The company was founded in an attempt at development of an HIV vaccine. After 9/11, the company expanded into Biodefense and was pursuing the development of vaccines for anthrax and smallpox for the US National Stockpile as part of the newly formed Dept. of Homeland Security. I joined the company at that time and I became the project leader on a new smallpox vaccine being developed in collaboration with a Japanese company.

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