≡ Menu

Some Covid Links

Vinay Prasad patiently reviews the dangers of imposing vaccine requirements on employees of health-care facilities. A slice:

But far more likely, in the vast majority of cases— short staffed, high numbers retiring, high natural immunity, variants piercing vax, abundant PPE, well ventilated hospitals room with little documented nosocomial spread last year— it is probably far better for patient outcomes to have more hands, even if those are unvaccinated.

Here’s University of Oxford epidemiologist Sunetra Gupta on Covid-19 infections. A slice:

One thing we have always known, because there are other coronaviruses circulating, is that we lose our immunity against the infection very rapidly, whether the virus changes or not. So, the ability to block infection, even with the vaccine, is short-lived. We don’t know whether we are looking at a flu-like dynamic where we get different variants coming up because they have mutated and evaded immunity. So we might have Omicron dominate now and a few years later, you might have Alpha come back. We don’t know which way it is. But whichever way it is, you will get reinfections…that is the normal and natural dynamic of influenza and coronaviruses.

Austria further institutionalizes the caste system.

Telegraph columnist Allison Pearson explains that “[i]t’s not fair to blame anti-vaxxers for the sick state of the NHS.” Here’s her opening:

It is disturbing to read that doctors and nurses are blaming the unvaccinated for filling up intensive care units and preventing them from treating “seriously ill patients”?  If large sections of the NHS had not shut up shop during the pandemic, then we wouldn’t have a waiting list of more than 5.8 million people. It is hardly patients’ fault that some criminally inadequate NHS managers chose to become a Covid-only service, a panic-stricken mistake that was not made by other countries.

Chris Lamb decries the grotesque hypocrisy of political ‘leaders’ (so-called) and their advisors. A slice:

The other big issue, of course, is Covid. Throughout the hysteria we’ve been exhorted to lock down, mask up, socially distance. Covid, we were told, posed an existential threat not just to individuals but to the nation and even the human race itself. We weren’t allowed to go to work, to get married, to attend funerals, even to be at the bedside of the dying. Unless you were in the government or one of its advisers, of course, in which case you could drive 250 miles to a tourist attraction to test your eyesight, or have your mistress travel across London to meet you, or kiss your secretary in your office.

I taught my children to look properly before they cross the road.  It wasn’t just a rule which I made for them, it’s a rule I obey myself because I know that it protects me from danger. Despite being a former lorry driver with more than a million miles in artics behind me, a former policeman who has controlled the traffic and a former recovery driver who has walked about in live lanes on the M6, I still obey the rules for crossing the road which I taught my kids. So believing that there was A Horrible Virus on the loose, which unlike an approaching car you can’t even see, why would you meet your mistress when by doing so you could pass on the evil virus and possibly kill her? Why kiss your secretary? Why drive the length of the country? These were rules, so we were told, to protect us and others, but they broke them. Conclusion? They don’t really believe in it.

Andrew Cadman identifies the new “bedwetter” variant.

Eric Claeys – a GMU colleague of mine from over in the Scalia School of Law – writes wisely about Jacobson and its relevance to today’s debate over state-mandated vaccination of the general public. Three slices:

Jacobson has been getting cited a lot in litigation this fall about mandatory vaccination policies issued by state universities or state or municipal governments. Most of those citations read Jacobson as U.S. Chief Justice John Roberts has—deferentially: “Our Constitution principally entrusts ‘[t]he safety and the health of the people’ to the politically accountable officials of the States.” Public-health experts read Jacobson similarly, as a blank check for state policies promoting public health. And many friends of ordered liberty have found Jacobson troubling. In a post on this website, James Stoner argued that Jacobson needs to be reconsidered. Sean Trende recently called Jacobson a “civil liberties nightmare,” and he warned that it is being cited by courts as an “argumentative checkmate.”

I want to take another look at Jacobson in this essay. Today, many assume that the power to regulate is the power to command people to do things subject to penalties sponsored by the government. Jacobson v. Massachusetts assumes and applies a different conception of the power to regulate—the power to coordinate behavior so that everyone is respecting one another’s rights. Just policies “regulate” in the sense that they make rights in positive law “regular” in relation to their natural rights. That understanding gives people a way to reason about civil liberties and the public health at the same time—even during a pandemic.


Most important, this essay says little about what legal rights Jacobson entitles citizens to in contemporary constitutional law. Josh Blackman argues that, in original context, Jacobson does not require courts to defer to legislatures and public health regulators as much as interventionist scholars and deferential judges now claim. I think Blackman is right, and this essay supplies further proof confirming his arguments. Here, however, I study Jacobson less as a lawyer and more as a political theorist. Jacobson assumes and applies a rich but limited understanding of the police power. That understanding seems to have been forgotten. We do need to recover Jacobson‘s meaning in constitutional law. But we need that meaning even more for our political discourse.


For my part, I doubt that COVID-19 is dangerous enough to justify compulsory vaccination. As serious as COVID-19 is, mortality rates for COVID-19 are far lower than 1% for patients younger than 65 and patients not in a few high-risk categories (like being obese). I also doubt that vaccinations are effective enough to justify compulsory vaccination. I find convincing studies showing that people who are vaccinated spread COVID-19 viruses at least as often as people who contract and develop natural immunities to them. (Vaccinations seem to help immune systems fight COVID-19, but they seem not to stop people from spreading viruses through their mouths and noses.) And the most persuasive justifications for vaccinations do not argue that they are outright effective; they argue only that vaccinations help as one of seven or eight complementary strategies to fight COVID-19. Now, reasonable people could marshal other evidence, they could easily criticize the evidence I’ve marshaled here, and we can all argue how to prioritize people’s rights not to be injected forcibly and their rights not to be exposed to COVID-19 viruses. For almost two years, however, political leaders, academics, and journalists have been making recommendations about COVID-19 policy—without a common framework connecting the public health to individual freedom. That is really troubling. Jacobson points the way to a juster public discourse.

Martin Kulldorff tweets:

The vocal pro-lockdown “public health scientists”, with their limited knowledge of infectious disease epidemiology, will be the last to recognize the public health disaster they created.

TANSTAFPFC (There Ain’t No Such Thing As Free Protection From Covid).

Julia Hartley-Brewer recently interviewed British Tory MP Desmond Swayne about omicron and the British government’s response to it:

Next post:

Previous post: