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‘Take it into my own hands’: Molecular biology graduate student develops COVID-19 vaccine

<h6>Ans Nawaz / The Daily Princetonian</h6>
Ans Nawaz / The Daily Princetonian

The following content is purely satirical and entirely fictional. This article is part of The Daily Princetonian’s annual joke issue, which you can find in full here. Don’t believe everything you read on the Internet!

When news of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines broke, people all over the world breathed a sigh of relief — finally, a light at the end of the tunnel. Little did we know, Princeton’s own Antonia Foochi would be vaccinating students months before these companies were ready to distribute theirs on a national level.

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Foochi, a second year graduate student in the Department of Molecular Biology, developed a COVID-19 vaccine in the Lewis Thomas Laboratory over the summer. She spent the fall testing the vaccine on students in her MOL214 precept — to great success. In fact, it’s Foochi the student body has to thank for the news last week that everyone will be allowed back on campus next semester. The Daily Princetonian sat down with Foochi to learn more about her process and hopes for the future.

Disappointed by the slow pace of science, Foochi began her work in June — in secret. She was unable to divulge her methodology for the development of the drug to the ‘Prince.’

“All I’m gonna say is: manuka honey, sheep testicle, a hint of cyanide, and a spit sample from a Trump supporter,” said Foochi.

Once she had the vaccine, distribution and testing were simple. She utilized her position as a preceptor to send her creation to eager students.

“We sent all the students a lab kit in September, and I just stuck the vaccine in 10 of them,” Foochi said.

She instructed her students to take the vaccine, and then told each of them to lick their local supermarket’s floor. Following the instructions would grant them access to an answer key for the midterm exam, according to one test subject.

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“When I saw the vaccine, it was bright purple and sulfur-smelling smoke was billowing out of it,” recalled Harry Azcrac ’22.  “But I had no other choice — I was failing MOL214. It was this or H*rvard Medical School was out the window.”

Other students recalled the side effects: extreme, unrelenting flatulence; a slight cough; and an uncontrollable desire to eat gefilte fish.

When asked about ethical implications, Foochi stood by her actions.

“I don’t trust Big Pharma, so I had to take matters into my own hands.”

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She admitted, however, that she completed all of her work by candlelight, away from the prying eyes of her mentors.

Plus, according to Foochi and students in her precept, it worked.

“This year, I dressed as a Playboy bunny, and I went to three Halloween parties,” recalled Maya Butreeks ’23. She administered the vaccine to herself right after receiving it in September. “The mask didn’t fit the vibe of the costume, so I skipped it. Two of my sorority sisters got COVID, but I’m fine!”

Foochi gave herself the vaccine too and has periodically attended underground “seances with my mol bio co-preceptors.” She has not contracted the virus.

After collecting the data from her 10 students, Foochi determined that the vaccine is 100 percent effective.

“I did the responsible thing. I brought the results to Grooby [President Christopher Eisgruber ’83], and he drafted the announcement right then and there, with tears streaming down his face,” recalled Foochi.

According to the Office of Communications, Foochi’s vaccine will be administered to every student who chooses to be residential this spring. This explains why everyone must decide by Dec. 3: Foochi has to get to work.

She’s taken over Princeton’s new testing facility to mass-produce the vaccine. Once all Princeton students, faculty, and staff are vaccinated, Foochi will make the vaccine available to the public. But, at a high price.

“For Princeton, it’s free. For everyone else? $1,000 a pop,” she said. She cited her school spirit as a key motivator throughout her process: during the interview, she displayed her back tattoo of the lyrics of Old Nassau.

When asked whether this steep price tag conflicted with her anti-Big Pharma beliefs, Foochi declined to comment.

One student expressed concern.

“I’m so grateful, I really am,” said Seymour Butz ’21. “But recently, I’ve been hallucinating Dean Dolan asking me out on dates. And I’ve only had the vaccine in my system for three months. Who knows what it will do to me next?”

For now though, Foochi is a hero to her students.

“I am completely inspired,” said Pat Myaz ’24. “I used to be a comparative literature concentrator, but now I’m switching to molecular biology. My new dream is to be just like Antonia — I want to be on the cutting edge of medicine too, one day.”

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