By Fr. Raymond Cook, OMI
As COVID-19 furiously attacked in the early months of the outbreak, the world was experiencing uncertainly, life changes and economic hardships. Rice University was, and still is, a microcosm of the world in which we live. Having our first confirmed case in February in the research lab, one of our Catholic community members contracted the virus and spent over two months recovering. The way in which her body reacted to the virus was severe, but it also was such that she was unable to develop antibodies against the virus even after being COVID free. Today every Rice student, faculty member, staff and visitors receive weekly COVID tests (nasal swabs) and masks are required as ALL times and no one can eat indoors in groups. Their success rate is a model for all universities. As of today, the positivity rate is far below 1% .
In May of 2020 a Rice Alumnus, who works for the Texas Drug and Development Center, put out a call to get volunteers to try the new RNA-based vaccine for Pfizer Phase II/III study. Because it was hitting so close to home, and my call as an Oblate compelled me to live out Constitution 2, I decided to sign up as a volunteer to participate in the double-blind study. Double blind essentially means that neither the participant nor the doctors know of you are receiving the vaccine or the placebo. I am patient 77 in this trial. In late July I received the call to make an appointment. I discussed it with friends and family and most advised against it because I am asthmatic. But after much time in prayer and guidance from our Lord Jesus, I decided to proceed.