During the centuries of Bubonic Plague in Europe, “plague doctors”, if you could call them that, wore bird-like masks stuffed with herbs. Camphor. Lavender. Peppermint. They had no idea what a bacterium was or what was causing people to die so suddenly and swiftly, but they thought their masks and cloaks might help.
Most people believed the Plague was God’s wrath, visited upon the sinful, which led to the Flagellants—troupes of young men who marched through towns, whipping their bare backs to bloodiness with flails—who hoped that by mortifying their flesh, God would spare their lives.
People in modern times still do this as part of religious devotional ceremonies.
In America, in the scientific age, we now know about bacteria and viruses. We can thank a Dutch scientist named van Leeuwenhoek who, in 1674, first observed microorganisms under his early microscope, thanks to Da Vinci’s discovery of magnification earlier in 1508.
It wasn’t until Edward Jenner, an English scientist who in 1796 discovered that smallpox could be prevented by introducing cowpox virus—a lesser cousin of smallpox– into the skin, that vaccination was born. He’d noticed that milk maids, who spent time with cows and commonly developed cowpox, seldom got smallpox. He theorized that cowpox exposure charged the immune system against its more deadly relative, and slowly, the notion of vaccination took hold in the West.
“Variolation” – introducing smallpox pus itself into the skin – was an old practice among the Ottomans and other cultures, by the way. European royalty practiced it, too. The problem was, it killed 10% of subjects, but still offered better odds than full-blown smallpox. At Valley Forge, George Washington ordered all his troops to undergo variolation. It just might have saved the American Revolution, just before his army crossed the Delaware and routed the sleeping Hessians at Trenton. You can read a compelling account of this in Kathryn Goodwin Tone’s THE KINGS BROAD ARROW, a young adult novel.
Dr. Jenner, however, believed in his cowpox vaccine. Scratch yourself with cowpox, wait three months, then scratch yourself with smallpox. No smallpox symptoms appear.
I’m not sure how much of this history modern anti-vaxxers know. I really doubt that the miniaturization of killer microchips has arrived at the level of sophistication where any of these Covid vaccines incorporates them. To what end? To switch off billions of people with the flick of a switch? Why not just let the plague run rampant and kill us off by itself? Besides, there’s a worldwide chip shortage these days. And those are just the regular-sized ones.
Covid is a result of peering into what should be a forbidden area of inquiry–gain of function in viruses and their weaponization—and represents human hubris at its worst.
Sure, in war bullets can indeed be useful, but not if you shoot yourself in the foot with them.