When a COVID-19 vaccine is found, give it to me first.

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Karen Zimmerman

Karen Zimmerman, 74, died on April 14, 2020 at Good Samaritan Regional Medical Center in Corvallis. Two of her four children were by her side.

Bobby Rutledge, 77, died April 1, 2020; Robert Rykken, 83, died May 8, 2020; Merle and Delores Tofte, 87 & 85, died March 16, 2020.

All Oregonians, all died from COVID-19, all older adults.

They fit a pattern.

People 65 years old or older account for 80% of COVID-19-related deaths in the United States to date, according to the CDC.  It’s not just their age that’s relevant. Older people are more likely have underlying health conditions, such as cardiovascular disease, lung conditions, diabetes and cancer. These complications, not just age, dictate the mortality of older adults.

The mortality of COVID-19 patients is just 0.3% for patients in their 40s, according to research by Imperial College London published in Lancet Infectious Diseases. Mortality rose to 1.25% of those in their 50s,  4% of those in their 60s, 8.6%, of those in their 70s and 13.4% of patients 80 and older.

“These early estimates give an indication of the fatality ratio across the spectrum of COVID-19 disease and show a strong age gradient in risk of death,” the research concluded.

Not only are older adults more at risk, but as treatments have improved fewer young people are dying. In late March, Americans over age 75 made up about half of all weekly deaths while Americans under 45 made up between 4-5%, according to the CDC. People over 75 now make up about two-thirds of deaths while those younger than 45 make up less than 2%.

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With these kinds of numbers, it only makes sense that when a successful vaccine is developed it shouldn’t be given away willy-nilly or first come-first served. It should be given first to those most at risk, older adults. I’m 76, so that includes me and my older folks cohort. Right?

Anti-GMO, Anti-Vaccine, Anti-Flouride: Anti-Science

Where did all these anti-science cranks come from?

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With an increasingly educated population, you’d think Oregon would be moving more toward rational, science-based thinking, but agenda-driven ideologues are pushing hard in the other direction.

Kari Chisholm, a Democratic political operative and founder of BlueOregon, a progressive political blog, sent me a message the other day urging me to sign a petition pledging to vote YES this fall on Measure 92. The measure would require that all raw food and packaged food that is entirely or partially produced with genetic engineering be labeled. Kari said he wants GMO labeling because when he eats junk food he can’t tell whether there’s anything genetically engineered in there.

He’d probably be better off just not eating junk food and leaving the rest of us alone. He’d be healthier and the rest of us wouldn’t have to deal with his anti-science GMO labeling blather.

The fact is, there is NO credible scientifically-based evidence that genetically engineered products are unsafe. As Pamela Ronald, a UC-Davis plant geneticist, noted in the Scientific American: “After 14 years of cultivation and a cumulative total of 2 billion acres planted, no adverse health or environmental effects have resulted from commercialization of genetically engineered crops.”

As a fallback, knowing that the science isn’t with them, the GMO labeling advocates say we need labeling because we need to know what’s in our food. A friend of mine without any scientific knowledge on the issue recently told me that alone is a reason to support Measure 92. But it’s not.

That’s because the argument is a smokescreen. The anti-science labeling advocates’ agenda is really to create the appearance of danger. As the editors of Scientific American have said, “…mandatory GMO labels would only intensify the misconception that so-called Frankenfoods endanger people’s health.”

The fact is, GMOs are as safe as other foods. If the labeling proponents are determined not to consume genetically engineered products, they can buy “100 Percent Organic” products and leave the rest of us alone.

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Everybody and their brother with real expertise on the issue has concluded that genetically engineered products are safe. This includes the American Medical Association, the World Health Organization, the American Society for the Advancement of Science, The National Academy of Sciences, The Royal Society of Medicine, The French Society of Science, The European Commission, The Union of German Academics of Sciences and Humanities, and on and on.

But the ill-informed anti-science GMO Chicken-Littles just keep going. After all, they’ve already convinced far too many gullible people that fluoride and vaccines are dangerous. Why stop now?