In this meeting of the Boston Chapter of Science for the People (SFTP), we first covered the OccupyPharma and #FreeTheVaccine collaboration. As a reminder, we are working with the #FreeTheVaccine campaign to write articles and opinion pieces to be submitted to local and national outlets as well as planning direct actions in the Boston area. The goal of the campaign is to build pressure to force pharmaceutical companies to price their COVID-19 treatments at cost since the public has already paid for it in the form of federal funding.
The three demands of the movement are:
- Vaccine free at point of use
- Vaccine sustainably priced for gov’ts that will purchase vaccine
- Vaccine must be universally available
Boston Science for the People’s contributions will be in the form of editorials, media outreach and infographics. Members are currently making progress on each of these. We discussed in detail some potential ideas for infographics, which will likely need to include information about the inflated cost of various medications.
The next major discussion was around the training event in the Fall for scientists. The main goal is to get people involved in Science for the People. The format would be a large session discussing Science for the People more generally and small sessions on specific topics. Some topics were proposed:
- Graduate student organizing/labor organizing in science
- Have people speak about the challenges
- Session based on university statements after George Floyd protests; look back and see what institution has done
- Session based on how to start a chapter
- Radical politics and teaching; democratizing the science curriculum
- General education on how to behave at a protest/action
We discussed either leading these sections ourselves or bringing in people with experience. The event should take up an afternoon, roughly 3 hours.
We then discussed the reading: Test often, fast turnaround. The main point we focused on was how the term “accuracy” does not encompass the complexity of testing. Since the virus grows exponentially WITHIN a person’s body, tests with different sensitivity will be appropriate at different times within the course of the virus. Highly sensitive tests may pick up small, non-transmissible amounts of virus, but even low-sensitivity tests will be able to pick up traces of virus when there’s a lot in the body. This leads to some amount of confusion around testing.