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Progressives Should Look in the Mirror

Here’s a letter to the New York Times:


Although Ross Douthat’s criticism of conservatives for being insufficiently enthusiastic about Covid vaccines features some welcome nuance, it still misses several elephants in the room (“How Republicans Failed the Unvaccinated,” April 6). Here are three.

The first such beast is the decades-long history of Americans being warned, chiefly by Progressives, that no new pharmaceutical product is to be trusted until the FDA approves it as being both safe and effective – an approval process that has come to take, on average, ten years. However unwise, the hesitancy of many Americans to trust the rapidly developed and approved Covid vaccines surely is rooted in this history.

Another elephant is the dismissal by most government leaders, along with prominent advisors and pundits, of the relevance of a key Covid fact (one reported in your pages as early as March 2020) – namely, the risk of suffering severely from Covid rises steeply with age, with the risks to children and young adults being minuscule. Given that officials ignored this key scientific fact when crafting Covid policy, it’s unsurprising that many Americans worried that some other key scientific fact was ignored by officials who issued assurances of the vaccines’ safety.

A third Dumbo is the disgraceful effort by Francis Collins and Anthony Fauci to shut down debate over the Great Barrington Declaration, and to smear the reputations of its three accomplished co-authors. When prominent public-health scientists behave, as did Collins and Fauci, in a manner so obviously at odds with the tradition and values of science, public distrust of official public-health pronouncements and assurances is to be expected.

Donald J. Boudreaux
Professor of Economics
Martha and Nelson Getchell Chair for the Study of Free Market Capitalism at the Mercatus Center
George Mason University
Fairfax, VA 22030