Virtue signaling keeps COVID vaccine mandates in place even as support wanes
Guest Post by Daniel Nuccio
Reposted from: The Washington Examiner
As a growing number of medical professionals question the effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines and boosters, mandates in some places still linger.
“I believe we should stop trying to prevent all symptomatic infections in healthy, young people by boosting them with vaccines containing mRNA from strains [of SARS-CoV-2] that might disappear a few months later,” wrote Dr. Paul Offit of the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and the University Pennsylvania’s Perelman School of Medicine in a recent New England Journal of Medicine opinion piece .
Research on the bivalent boosters recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for everyone over the age of 5, Offit noted, has failed to demonstrate a superior immune response when compared to older boosters for which emergency use authorization was withdrawn back in September.
Furthermore, Offit highlighted that data from a CDC-published study from November showed that the bivalent boosters likely only provide what he described as a “moderate increase in protection against probably generally mild disease” that would likely be “short lived” in part due to the rise of newer subvariants not targeted by these shots.
Raising concerns about the safety of the COVID-19 vaccines and boosters for college students, University of Washington public health scholar Kevin Bardosh , along with several colleagues including Dr. Marty Makary of Johns Hopkins University and Dr. Vinay Prasad, an epidemiologist at UCSF, wrote in the BMJ Journal of Medical Ethics late last year, “Booster mandates in young adults are expected to cause a net harm.”
“[F]or each [COVID-19] hospitalization averted,” they wrote, “we estimate approximately 18.5 SAEs [serious adverse events] and 1430–4626 disruptions of daily activities.”
In a public statement published through the Daily Sceptic earlier this month, a group of five senior Swedish medical professionals and a human rights scholar condemned mass vaccination policies for COVID-19 more broadly, calling for a halt to such programs, as well as investigations, citing several studies finding associations between the COVID-19 vaccines and heart disease, along with other medical concerns.
Yet, even in the early months of 2023, despite this growing acknowledgment that COVID-19 mass vaccination is of limited effectiveness and brings with it potential for serious risk, vaccine mandates, which have become a memory of a seemingly distant past for most, can still restrict people’s lives in both trivial and serious ways.
For example, those who had not received the failing bivalent booster discussed by Offit were barred from competition in a recent Scrabble tournament in New Orleans. Such people are also prohibited from attending Harvard , Yale , and more than a dozen other universities, as documented by the medical freedom organization No College Mandates. The same database lists hundreds of other schools requiring at least an initial series of vaccinations for COVID-19.
Likewise, the unvaccinated are precluded from volunteering at the Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee. They cannot workin a multitude of healthcare settings in California. They are prohibited from holding jobs as city employees in Los Angeles unless approved for a medical or religious exemption, the latter having been described by several unvaccinated city employees as prohibitively difficult to attain. The list goes on.
The exact reason for these continued restrictions on the unvaccinated, and sometimes vaccinated but unboosted, remains unclear and may vary by institution or organization.
If one were to be generous, as Bardosh and his colleagues were in their paper, one could say the remaining restrictions, especially at universities, are an example of status-quo bias. Less generously, one might say these are manifestations of institutional neuroticism, virtue signaling, or vindictiveness.
What one can’t say, however, is that these restrictions remain due to an interest in public health, safety, or an overwhelming scientific consensus.
Daniel Nuccio is a Ph.D. student in biology and a regular contributor to the College Fix and the Brownstone Institute.