It was a screenshot of a 75-slide presentation posted on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s website that was shared with her by a friend who attended a recent meeting on emergency vaccine authorization.
The image featured a thin black line surrounded by heavy gray shading rising to the top of the chart.
None of this sounds so funny. However, the image looked remarkable as an anatomical part that could not be repeated in a family newspaper. This was not lost on either Marcus or the hundreds of doubles commentators on standby.
“The J&J vaccine is increasing on occasion,”
Within hours, the post was shared more than 6,000 times and exceeded 30,000 “likes”. Hundreds of people began to weigh and make their own carefree comments about what the image actually looked like. You can read all the answers here (be warned, many are NSFW).
Reached over the phone, Marcus said that after months of talking about COVID-19 and vaccines and the news being relentlessly bleak, she wanted to ease people’s spirits.
“People are fighting right now and I think people need to laugh. That was really my only intention, “she said. “I think people like a good pun.”
But the answer, she said, was a little surprising.
“I didn’t really foresee that,” Marcus said. “I can’t really handle the answer. But it looks like a pun game. “
Many commenters noted that her tweet had unexpected benefits. Using an obscene joke to convey important information about the effectiveness of the latest vaccine can boost people’s confidence in getting the shot.
“You’re laughing,” tweeted one man, “but I argue that this chart will reach more people who need to see it than a chart that doesn’t look that way!”
Another person said it was a smart way promotion the vaccine, while a third applauded the use of humor in public health communication.
Marcus’s research focuses mainly on HIV. But during the pandemic, she wrote about “the importance of a harm-reducing approach to preventing coronavirus transmission, with lessons learned from the HIV epidemic,” according to the Harvard Medical School website.
Marcus said her tweet was just meant to bring a little lightness in the dark. But if the chart helps spread information about vaccinations and draws attention to “very impressive data,” it’s a win-win, she said.
“The more people see the amazing data on the effectiveness of these vaccines, the better,” she said, “and I’m happy to do my little part.”
Is not that small.
Steve Anner chases stories so strange or unusual that you’ll want to tell them at dinner. Have you seen something you want to answer? Giant door? Or maybe a a cemetery of rocking horses, strange stone marker on the island, or old trophies under the bridge? Let us know by contacting us.
Steve Annear can be found at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @steveannear.