Herd Immunity from the Delta Variant – “Mythical”

Image by Spencer Davis from Pixabay

To vax or not to vax? I’m vaccinated. I think everybody who is eligible to be vaccinated should get vaccinated.  Jim Bacon makes the excellent point that people who are vaccinated may still get COVID but are far less likely to die from the virus. Others believe that vaccinations will confer herd immunity to the population as a whole if only enough people get vaccinated. Not so claims a world renowned virologist. Sir Andrew Pollard, head of the Oxford Vaccine Group and a leading epidemiologist, calls herd immunity from the Delta variant “not a possibility” and “mythical.” If herd immunity really is “mythical,” is there a public health basis to mandate vaccines? The pro vax mandate crowd has continually compared the COVID vaccinations to vaccinations against diseases like polio. But if herd immunity is “not a possibility,” where do we stand?

My vax protects you. According to Sir Andrew Pollard, that’s just not true.  Pollard says, “I suspect that what the virus will throw up next is a variant which is perhaps even better at transmitting among vaccinated populations and so that’s even more of a reason not to be making a vaccine program around herd immunity.” He adds, “The problem with this virus is [it is] not measles. If 95% of people were vaccinated against measles, the virus cannot transmit in the population.”

So, if vaccines can’t stop the spread of COVID and vaccines can’t even reliably prevent you from getting COVID … what business does the government have in mandating vaccinations? If vaccinations are purely for personal protection, should the government mandate such protection? The murder rate in Chicago has been soaring lately. Should Mayor Lori Lightfoot mandate that Chicagoans wear bulletproof vests when outdoors? Where do government mandates for personal protection end?

How much do we really know? In my opinion (and in the opinion of others) many of our constitutional rights have been abridged in the name of public health around the COVID pandemic. Some say the crisis justified that abridgment. However, it seems foundational that abridging constitutionally guaranteed freedoms should only be considered if there is reason to be confident that the suspension of those freedoms will achieve the desired result. In turn, knowing what will work requires that we substantially understand the crisis at hand. Do we?

Today’s news is that Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and the Chief Medical Advisor to the President, claimed that booster shots are inevitable for everyone, eventually.  Just 35 days ago the CDC published a report saying, “Americans who have been fully vaccinated do not need a booster shot at this time.” From nobody to everybody in just over a month. How many times have we heard that the EUA status of the COVID vaccines is just a formality? How many times have we been told that, despite the EUA status, the vaccines are safe, effective and necessary? If we really knew the effectiveness of the vaccines 35 days ago why did the CDC claim that no booster shots would be necessary while today they will be necessary for everybody?

The reality is that the vaccines are experimental because we really don’t know how safe, effective and necessary they are. I compliment the FDA for not being bullied into premature approval.

Rights vs being right. As I stated at the start of this article, I’m vaccinated.  If booster shots are offered I expect that I’ll get one (or two or twenty, whatever). But is it right for me or anybody else to be mandating vaccinations? If herd immunity can’t be achieved through vaccination what right does anybody have to demand others be vaccinated? It seems clear to me that our government doesn’t understand this virus well enough to mandate much of anything. Recommend? Sure. Strip away constitutionally guaranteed rights through mandates? Not at this time.

— DJ Rippert.