If you want perspective on how how people <35 die in the US, relative to COVID, take a look. It would be nice if we placed a proportionate amount of societal energy into preserving life via prevention of MV acc, ODs, homicide, suicide, & drownings (not shown but 12x more for <5)
Anxiety over COVID-19 might be an unhappy side effect of getting vaccinated against the disease.
I’m kidding, but you could be forgiven for drawing that tongue-in-cheek conclusion from a new Morning Consult/New York Times poll showing that vaccinated (and boosted) Americans are about twice as likely to say they are “very” or “somewhat” concerned about “getting sick from COVID-19 within the next year.”
That is, of course, the exact opposite of what the actual science tells us. Even during the tremendous surge in COVID cases caused by the omicron variant, vaccinated individuals have had far less to worry about. According to recent studies out of the U.K. and Canada, unvaccinated individuals are five times as likely to end up in the hospital than those who have received the vaccine, and vaccination has reduced the risk of ending up in an intensive care unit (ICU) by more than 93 percent. If you’ve been vaxxed and boosted, you’re roughly 50 times less likely to end up hospitalized with COVID than someone who has not received a single dose, according to an analysis by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Regardless, this doesn’t explain away the unwillingness of vaccinated Americans to drop their COVID anxiety—and to stop forcing that anxiety upon children, who are the real victims of the past two years. More COVID-related mandates in deep blue urban areas will not convince rural Republicans to take the disease more seriously, it turns out.
Third, and relatedly, it’s impossible to discount the role that poor policy making is playing here. Places like New York City and Washington, D.C., that have imposed or reimposed mask and/or vaccine mandates in recent months also have high vaccination rates. But the ongoing layering of new rules leaves the impression that residents must escalate their anxiety accordingly—and, no surprise, that anxiety may be captured in polls like this one.
It’s a sneaky sleight of hand. The authorities hide behind the curtain, making the rules (and inflicting punishment on those who don’t follow them). But the face of the restrictions, the one people spit in when they’re angry about the disruption to their lives? That’s your restaurant manager, your flight attendant, your minimum wage cashier.
Not everyone thinks this is a bad thing. Some people—the Brooklyn bouncer who reportedly turned away a patron for being vaccinated with an inferior brand, the flight attendant who’s just a little too stoked about banning two-year olds who don’t wear their masks correctly—are all too happy not just to wield this power but to abuse it. But for those of us who never wanted to play cop, being essentially blackmailed into the role is not just a constant reminder that things are far from normal; it’s an endless source of stress.
This is the catch-22 of having power during the pandemic. The authorities who impose these mandates are being screamed at every day to do something to combat the spread of a wildly contagious virus that, realistically, they can’t do a lot to contain. So they do something, but they don’t want the blowback if the something doesn’t work. If case rates in my town keep rising despite the mask mandate, nobody will ever admit that the policy was flawed; it’ll just be blamed on the individuals who didn’t comply, and on the service workers and small business owners who didn’t make them comply.
When ordinary people do the dirty work of enforcing the rules, the people who made those rules get to maintain the illusion of clean hands—aided by the narrative that nothing about this is abnormal at all, that there’s nothing to see here, that this is how things have always been.
Telegraph columnist Allison Pearson decries “[t]he suffering caused by puffed-up little public-health Hitlers, by safetyist care-home regulators, by Government ministers who look the other way in a shabby attempt to cover their backsides for the public inquiry….” Another slice:
Early in the pandemic, many rules were devised by Brains-from-Thunderbirds types at the Department of Health and in Whitehall’s “Nudge Unit”. They lacked compassion and basic common sense, but people were threatened and ostracised if they dared challenge them. Yes, there are lots of good, kind nurses, doctors and carers in the system, but they were intimidated and uncertain about what they were “allowed” to offer desperate relatives.
According to the rules, NHS staff must have a first jab by February 3 and be fully vaccinated by April 1 to continue in frontline roles – a move predicted to force tens of thousands out of their current roles or out of the health service altogether.
In light of this, it is worth remembering one of the central reasons why the latest round of restrictions were brought in – not due to high infection or mortality rates, but to their predicted impact on hospital capacity and staffing issues, which – it was feared – would cripple the Service and lead to excess deaths.
Many doctors such as myself, therefore, are asking where the logic is in mandating a policy that will certainly lead to the very result that was feared in the first place: that is, tens of thousands of NHS staff away from the frontline?
I’m uneasy to discover that I’m in disagreement – and quite fundamental disagreement, at that – with Kevin Williamson. But so I find myself on the question of government-imposed vaccine mandates that effectively fall on the general population. I’m reassured, however, to learn that the position that I take on these mandates is one taken also by Charles Cooke.
After a ruling earlier this month by the U.S. Supreme Court, the Biden administration formally withdraws the abominable vaccine mandate to be imposed through OSHA on employees of private companies. A slice from a Wall Street Journal report:
The rule, most of which was set to take effect earlier this month, prompted a lawsuit by business groups. On Jan. 13, the Supreme Court stopped the rule from going into effect while it deliberated over the lawsuit. The rule would have affected roughly 84 million workers.
In an unsigned ruling, the court’s conservative majority said the administration likely didn’t have the power to impose such a requirement on private businesses.
The rule wouldn’t apply to businesses whose employees don’t report to a workplace nor to those who work at home or outdoors.
OSHA said it was “prioritizing its resources to focus on finalizing a permanent Covid-19 healthcare standard.”
The Buckeye Institute, a legal group representing one set of employers, said it would continue to challenge the administration’s effort to impose the rule through the regular rule-making process.
Corey Walker reports that a “New York Supreme Court judge ruled on Monday that Governor Kathy Hochul’s mask mandates for schools and public places are void and cannot be enforced.” (Note that New York’s Supreme Court is not that state’s highest court; this court is actually a trial court. New York State’s highest court is its Court of Appeals.)
FACT: World No 1 tennis player Novak Djokovic is a clear and present danger to Australia. We all learned this, dear reader, when the Australian government cancelled the visa granted to allow him to take part in the Australian Open championship.
What is notable about the visa saga and the decision of the Minister for Immigration is that Djokovic was deported not because he represented a risk in spreading the Covid-19 virus. No, it was his ‘anti-vaccination’ views, and the possibility that by his mere presence in Australia he would give comfort and encouragement to those dreaded antivaxxers, that saw him kicked out. What was even worse was that Djokovic could be seen as an icon ‘of freedom of choice in relation to being vaccinated’. And we can’t have that.
Djokovic argued that he was not there to foster anti-vaccination sentiment but the court disagreed. That may not have been his intent, but it was the result of his ‘presence’ in the country.
The court: ‘It was open to infer that it was perceived by the public that Mr Djokovic was not in favour of vaccinations. It was known or at least perceived by the public that he had chosen not to be vaccinated. There was material before the Minister and to which he referred in the reasons that anti-vaccination groups had portrayed Mr Djokovic as a hero and an icon of freedom of choice in relation to being vaccinated.’ (My emphasis.)
So there we have it. Djokovic was cancelled because some people might see him as an icon of freedom of choice over medical treatment. Some people might see him as a champion of bodily integrity and free and informed consent to medical treatment. The Australian government believe such ideas – freedom of choice in relation to being vaccinated – are dangerous. These ideas represent a threat to public health and order. They actually argued this openly.
In the past two weeks, parents, students, and some faculty have pushed back. Around the country, thousands of parents, students, and alumni signed open letters to administrators at hundreds of universities and posted petitions on Change.org and Facebook. Twitter groups critical of booster mandates now have thousands of people sharing resources and letters. Students at Princeton, the University of Chicago, and Northwestern published opinion pieces in campus newspapers speaking up for their right to have a normal campus experience.
Will universities listen? Harvard has taken a small step in the right direction, announcing that it will no longer use isolation dorms and will rely on students to contact-trace themselves. But that’s not enough. Harvard is still maintaining two weeks of “grab and go” dining and requiring boosters to start the semester.
With these policies, administrators are imposing the strictest restrictions and harshest mandates on primarily young, healthy people who are least likely to benefit from them. These constraints may even harm their mental health, which has deteriorated during the pandemic, and the booster requirement may cause physical harm to a tiny minority.
Young, healthy men particularly will bear the highest risk of myocarditis—an inflammatory process that affects the heart in response to the vaccine and which can be mild, severe, or even life-threatening in the worst cases—while potentially not substantially lowering their risk of a severe Covid-19 outcome (already vanishingly low). A CDC study recently reported that weekly deaths in people aged 18–29 decreased to zero from one in 5 million previously. A recent analysis from the United Kingdom shows the rate of myocarditis from dose three of a Pfizer vaccine is greater than the risk of myocarditis from a SARS-CoV-2 infection for men younger than 40. White House pressure to authorize boosters without adequate safety data was the reason cited by the deputy director and director of the FDA’s vaccines office when they resigned last fall.
It seems that university administrators are still overly concerned with keeping down cases—the number of people who test positive for Covid—perhaps to satisfy a small but loud minority of anxious faculty or parents, none of whom has to suffer under these rules. Whatever the motivation, it is not worth the toll these measures take on students’ lives. Case counts are a poor indicator of college students’ health: the vast majority of positive tests in young, healthy, vaccinated adults occur in asymptomatic or mildly symptomatic people. The overweening drive to suppress cases above all else does not create a physically, mentally, or socially healthy campus for anybody.