A good friend of mine posted this on Facebook:
“Shout out to all the lab rats that will give their lives to develop COVID-19’s vaccine. Often times mice and rats get a bad rap for living so close to humans, but they are mini super-heroes in medical research.”
I think he’s onto something. He’s thinking of something very big picture. He’s ripping open the cage-wire doors to the reality of how dependent the fields of human and veterinary medicine are on lab rats and mice and all animals living their entire lives in laboratories throughout the world. Irrefutably, medical research in its entirety relies completely on lab animals to design experiments, test hypotheses, and make advancements. This reliance allows us, as a society, to explore treatment options for the most serious syndromes and, ultimately, cure disease. Aging, alzheimer’s, cystic fibrosis, polio, and hopefully COVID-19 are just a few of the diseases we understand better today because of our animal models. Furthermore, these models allow us to focus our medical lens on the future in which specialized, precision medicine enhances the baseline health of our society.
…and we are doing all this without giving lab rats and mice a choice.
I think this is what my friend is trying to say. Human scientists, doctors, and health care professionals are undoubtedly heroes in medical research and in supporting the structure of our society, but lab animals are the true unsung heroes. They are the true embodiment of selflessness. Without them, science in its simplest form would be at a virtual standstill.
This is especially important to realize during hysteria-ridden, politically charged, society-altering pandemics like the one we are experiencing right now. These mini-superheroes allow us to crack viral codes and solve RNA jig-saw puzzles, but more importantly they provide our society with peace, stability, confidence, and unity. They provide us with so much more than vaccines, medications, and treatment regimens. They provide us with a comfortable, predictable, and stable life. They provide us with human life as we know it.
It is indisputable the debt we owe to lab animals. Again, they are not given a choice in any of this. So, the least we can do? We can begin to see these creatures not just as mini-superheroes but as mega-superheroes. They deserve it. They deserve the recognition.