Science is a collection of our best guesses at what we observe in the world around us. It is not immutable. Therefore, the idea that the treatment or prevention of COVID-19 is definite or infallible is foolish. Medical treatments and public health policy, much like science, evolve with our greater understanding of any given disease. COVID-19 vaccine mandates reflect a tone-deaf approach to the science of this disease.
Are we there yet? COVID-19 vaccination rates & herd immunity
At the start of the pandemic, the US government told us that if we reached a 60-70% vaccination rate, we would attain the threshold for herd immunity. Hooray! We’ve reached that milestone, but wait it’s changed! Currently, the government’s estimation to reach herd immunity is a 90% vaccination rate “due to different variants emerging”.
Why do we have different variants than when this first started? Basic science. Viruses are alive and generally, like all living things, don’t like to die. So they evolve. Which is why our vaccines are being updated. Similar to the uptick in the estimate for the US to reach herd immunity, one vaccination has morphed into yearly boosters. This has changed into 5 month boosters. None of which are better than naturally acquired immunity.
Tales from the vaccinated
Anecdotally, the two vaccinated members of my household, one who is over 65 years of age (a population I believe should consider vaccination) and one who is 40 (vaccinated due to work in healthcare) caught and had the same symptoms as those in my household of 7 who were not vaccinated. Same goes for my mother and her husband who are over 60. He was vaccinated, she was not. Both tested positive for and were sickened by COVID-19.
Vaccinated or not, this virus does not discriminate. The only thing any given vaccine may help with is severity of disease, not prevention. Complete immunity is a falsehood even the pharmaceutical industry did not try to sell. Studies are now showing that natural immunity, immunity acquired by surviving a bout with COVID-19, is equal to or better protection against future variants and reinfection than vaccination.
Despite this, public health policy is sweeping natural immunity aside as if those with previous COVID-19 infections who are unvaccinated are the same as the unvaccinated with no previous COVID-19 exposure. As the chart below demonstrates from the latest COVID-19 study out of California and New York, the unvaccinated with a previous COVID-19 diagnosis have the same hazard rate as the vaccinated with a previous COVID-19 diagnosis. In other words, natural immunity is just as good as vaccination.
COVID-19 vaccine mandates are wrong
Which brings us to the most concerning point in all of this, COVID-19 vaccine mandates. Whether you are a vaccine stalwart or like me see the pros and cons, mandating vaccination is wrong both morally and scientifically. It is wrong because it does not in fact eradicate the virus or decrease transmission. It does not stop the virus from evolving, in fact it encourages it. What it does do is trample fundamental rights of individuals.
A century ago the US government took a similar position enacting prohibition in America. Given the state of the global alcohol industry today, that effort not only failed miserably, but backfired. It drove the alcohol market underground much like vaccine mandates are doing with vaccine cards. Recently 2 New York nurses were charged with selling counterfeit vaccine cards netting a profit of $1.5 million! While I applaud their ingenuity, this points out the fact that when you try to force people to adhere to something they fundamentally oppose, they will find ways around it.
Medical data have proven beyond a doubt that alcohol consumption, even in moderate amounts is harmful to the human body. Social science has also studied the detrimental effects of alcohol consumption. Despite all of the evidence that the individual choice of consuming alcohol eventually leads to negative social impacts, the government was forced to ignore science when the profits of producing it were greater than the profits of banning it. It was also a very unpopular movement that was difficult to regulate and enforce, much like vaccination.
Private enterprise & public policy
When private corporations are calling the shots, science and human welfare take a back seat to profitability and politics. Both vaccine and alcohol producers directly influence public policy. The major difference is, we accept an individual’s right to drink alcohol while we are not applying the same logic when it comes to vaccination.
As George Santayana lamented, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” We are in the same conundrum as when the government adopted prohibition. Eventually the economics will shift. Hopefully essential workers will tip the scale in favor of preserving our fundamental right to determine what goes into our bodies. It is clear that what is at play in these COVID-19 mandates is the bottom line, not actual science, nor the health or well-being of our society.
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