On February 9, 2020, I wrote a memo on behalf of President Trump to the White House Coronavirus Task Force that would help catalyze accelerated development of the vaccines now being administered to the American people. Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine a Biden administration would turn the Trump vaccines into a weapon of cultural, economic, and social control.
Here, you can make the case – and the Democrats have tried to do so – that every American must be vaccinated to not infect other Americans. As an economist, I understand this positive benefit to others or “positive externalities” argument. Yet, having been at the front lines of vaccine development, I also understand this: The vaccines now being used on the American public pose not insignificant risks. Some of these risks we do not yet fully understand. On these points alone, no American citizen should be forced or pressured to get vaccinated.
Here, the idea that a vaccination “passport” might be used to deny us jet travel, restrict our entry into restaurants or sports arenas, turn our children into pariah “others” in their own schools, and even take our jobs away is not just morally repugnant. It is bad science and poor risk management.
That individual choice should be our guiding principle in this pandemic is evident in four simple observations.
First, the vaccines can do considerable harm. Side effects range from chills, fever, fatigue, muscle pain, and headache to far more serious blood clots, heart muscle inflammation (myocarditis), heart lining inflammation (pericarditis), Bell’s Palsy, Guillain- Barré syndrome, anaphylaxis, and death itself.
Second, these vaccines are being administered under an Emergency Use Authorization rather than full Food and Drug Administration approval. It takes considerable time for all possible side effects to be fully understood – up to a year and a half or more – and the FDA itself has acknowledged the possibility of “serious and unexpected side effects” as it continues clinical trials.
Third, several vaccines have been produced with experimental “messenger ribonucleic acid” or mRNA technologies. What could go wrong there? Who knows? And that is a problem.
Fourth, and perhaps most importantly, risk varies markedly across different segments of our population. For example, the risk of dying from the virus rises exponentially after the age of 60, while individuals with significant comorbidities like lung or heart disease, diabetes, or obesity likewise face considerably higher risks of death and serious illness should they become infected.
Clearly, seniors and individuals with significant comorbidities have a much greater incentive to be vaccinated because their own risks and complications from an infection may be significantly higher than the not inconsequential risks of the vaccine itself.
On the other hand, young and healthy individuals are likely to suffer only moderate or no symptoms from the virus while facing little risk of death. This is particularly true for very young children – one of the great fortunes to date of an otherwise beyond grim pandemic.
In the rational view of many parents, it is therefore far better that their child run the risk of getting infected and develop their own natural immunities than being injected with a vaccine with obvious side effects and uncertain long-term implications. And here, this must be said: Forcing or pressuring our young children to be vaccinated is tantamount to forcing a large unnecessary risk and cost upon them in exchange for a small and speculative positive external benefit to adults. This kind of government mandate gives a whole new meaning to the phrase “women and children first.”
It’s not just age and comorbidities that factor into the risk calculus. People infected by the virus often build up powerful natural antibodies and immune cells known as memory T-cells. These immunities are likely to be every bit as effective (or more) as any generated by the vaccines.
To force people to be vaccinated who have these antibodies is to force them to take on the risks and costs of vaccination with little or no incremental immunization benefit. It is as scientifically foolish as the forced jabbing of our kids.
Let us note the irony of a Democrat Biden regime that is anything but “Pro-Choice” when it comes to the vaccination decision. A second-term Trump administration would never have tolerated the tyranny and bad science we are now witnessing.
• Peter Navarro served as an Assistant to the President and as the Defense Production Act Policy Coordinator in the Trump White House.
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