Forcing vaccines on previously infected people goes against science and constitutional freedoms.
by Paul Kengor
Before saying what I’m about to say, let me begin by reminding readers that numerous times last year I wrote about my great concern over COVID and about the crucial need for a vaccine. I was anything but a COVID skeptic; to the contrary, I was arguably a COVID alarmist (I’d say a realist), especially in the early spring of 2020, when data initially showed shocking double-digit COVID death rates throughout Europe and in several U.S. states. I’ve never opposed vaccines, and I wrote here hopefully last spring about promising efforts at my alma mater, the University of Pittsburgh, to develop a COVID vaccine. I also hailed the terrific push (and ultimate success) by President Trump with his Operation Warp Speed, which President Joe Biden has shamelessly not given due credit.
So, I was not a COVID skeptic, nor have I ever been an “anti-vaxxer.”
Let me go further: I worked in immunology at the University of Pittsburgh from 1987–91 as an employee of Dr. Thomas Starzl’s organ-transplant team. I collected data and did research on the immuno-suppressants and other drugs related to the extremely complicated process of trying to get the human body not to reject a transplanted organ. Those included Cyclosporin, a drug called OKT3, and the miracle drug that saved and revolutionized the entire field of organ transplantation: FK-506.
I present all of that as background in saying this here now: I personally had COVID (my symptoms were fairly mild), and so I am not going to get a vaccine. And no one, especially in the United States of America, should be able to force me to have a needle injected into my body against my will, my conscience, and my constitutional liberties.
To make that assertion isn’t something stupidly bull-headed or blindly irrational on my part. The fact is that it strikes me as extremely odd, if not bull-headed and a little blindly irrational, to behold certain individuals aggressively pushing individuals who had COVID to get vaccinated for a virus they’ve already had — that is, a virus they have survived and firmly beaten and now have immunity against.
Why do you need a vaccine for something you’ve already had?
Yes, to be sure, there are diseases or conditions that you can pick up again or that recur (Lyme disease and shingles, to name just two), but typically if you’ve naturally fought and survived a virus, you’re usually protected from getting sick from it again. Your immune system is readied and prepared to knock it down. In fact, that’s what a vaccine does. It injects into your body a form of the virus (often heat-killed or genetically engineered or not “live” or some other form) that readies and prepares your immune system to knock it down — as if you’ve already the virus in your body (which all COVID survivors have had). A vaccine is an artificial alternative or substitute to the real virus; a vaccine is for a person who has not had the real virus. Thus, a person who had the real virus usually doesn’t need the vaccine.
Sure, of course, I’ve heard the argument: A person can (allegedly) get reinfected with COVID. That was being said about this time last summer. That claim always struck me as suspect. All along, I’ve followed the science. And the latest science firmly suggests that if you’ve had COVID, you’re just as protected and unlikely to get sick from the virus again as someone who has been vaccinated for it. It’s common sense: Really, there is simply little reason to assume with certainty that a lab-manufacturing virus would give you greater immunity than the real one you’ve already had.
But beyond common-sense assumptions, there are now studies affirming this in medical and science journals. I cannot summarize them all here, but here are two recent ones that stand out:
A new peer-reviewed study published in the journal Nature found that patients who have recovered from COVID develop a long-lasting “robust antigen-specific” immune response that can protect them for years. The study notes that this stands contrary to assertions made last year, which were based on insufficient information or faulty data collection. That’s not a surprise; it was early in the pandemic.
“Last fall, there were reports that antibodies waned quickly after infection with the virus that causes COVID-19, and mainstream media interpreted that to mean that immunity was not long-lived,” says Ali Ellebedy, an associate professor of pathology and immunology at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis and senior author of the study. “But that’s a misinterpretation of the data. It’s normal for antibody levels to go down after acute infection, but they don’t go down to zero; they plateau.” He added, “Here, we found antibody-producing cells in people 11 months after the first symptoms. These cells will live and produce antibodies for the rest of people’s lives. That’s strong evidence for long-lasting immunity.”
Read that again: “These cells will live and produce antibodies for the rest of people’s lives. That’s strong evidence for long-lasting immunity.”
But hadn’t we heard that this wasn’t the case? As Dr. Ellebedy said, yes, we had heard that. But like practically everything involved with COVID-19 (and medical science as a whole), our understanding is in flux and always developing and being reappraised based on new data. Remember, as I noted above, the extremely high initial death rates for COVID. I wrote a piece for the print edition of The American Spectator this time last year noting that the majority of Western European countries were reporting COVID morbidity rates above 10 percent. The figures were frightening. That was why I was so alarmed by COVID — i.e., I was looking at the data. But that data ultimately came way down. The morbidity rate today is far lower than the initial reports, mercifully (the highest estimates in the United States don’t go above 2 percent, which, for the record, is still a high fatality rate, far worse than the seasonal flu). We are now reappraising based on more data and better knowledge. To quote Dr. Anthony Fauci, we’re following the science (and, as I write, the CDC is slow if not late on this newest data regarding immunity among those who have had COVID).
What is true for the death rates also applies for data on COVID survivors and immunity, which likewise must prompt us to adjust accordingly. To that end, here’s another important study:
A major research effort by the Cleveland Clinic, conducted on 52,238 employees — i.e., a huge sample size — flatly concluded that individuals who had COVID do not get additional benefits from vaccination. Dr. Sanchari Sinha Dutta summarizes the study’s findings: “individuals with previous SARS-CoV-2 infection do not get additional benefits from vaccination, indicating that COVID-19 vaccines should be prioritized to individuals without prior infection.” Dutta added that “no significant difference in COVID-19 incidence was observed between previously infected and currently vaccinated participants.”
Read those words carefully: vaccination gives no additional benefits to those already infected by COVID.
The Cleveland Clinic study is groundbreaking, based on a massive and indisputably statistically significant sample size. It is clearly the most thorough research study to date. Sen. Rand Paul (a physician) has pointed to it, with a clever twist to tweak socially minded liberals: “Great news! Cleveland clinic study of 52,238 employees shows unvaccinated people who have had COVID 19 have no difference in re-infection rate than people who had COVID 19 and who took the vaccine,” Paul said, adding, “This information frees up millions of doses of vaccines for those not yet infected in places with vaccine shortages like India.”
It does indeed. Woke progressives, assuming their hearts indeed bleed for all of humanity, including the poor people of population-packed India, ought to be demanding that our excess and unnecessary vaccine doses be shipped abroad to help needy brothers and sisters overseas.
I’ve cited only two studies here. I could cite others and quote other researchers. Likewise, I could cite studies and researchers to the contrary. There are always differing studies. That said, a major advantage of the two aforementioned studies is that they have the benefit of time. The initial claims in the media this time last year, speculating that a person could get reinfected and sick again from COVID, plainly did not have enough time to support those claims. Truly, only time (and data) would tell.
And yet many Americans, backed or pressured by their employers or schools or whomever or whatever, persist in pushing for everyone to get vaccinated. That’s a form of vaccine hysteria. Of course, I’m not surprised that pharmaceutical companies or the CDC, which thrives on big research bucks bequeathed by taxpayers, would be pushing for mass vaccination. That’s what they do. They belly up to the government trough. In light of the latest research, however, no one, and certainly not the government or private employers or organizations (including schools), should be forcing people who have had COVID to take what are still technically experimental vaccines against their will.
Yes, experimental. The FDA and vaccine manufacturers themselves warn precisely that — namely, that these vaccines are technically still experimental and potentially carry notable side effects (particularly for pregnant women), which vaccine recipients have been reporting by the thousands. An official “Fact Sheet for Recipients and Caregivers” (updated through May 2021) of the Pfizer vaccine states categorically, “The Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine is a vaccine and may prevent you from getting COVID-19. There is no U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved vaccine to prevent COVID-19.”
Read that again: “There is no U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved vaccine to prevent COVID-19.”
Probably most Americans who haven’t had COVID, especially those who are vulnerable with co-morbidities, old age, or obesity, are willing to take the risks and receive the vaccine. I support them totally. That’s a free-will choice that doesn’t violate their conscience or constitutional protections. Had I not contracted COVID, I would be thinking differently about getting vaccinated. But there’s no good reason to believe that I should be forced to take a vaccine that would prevent me from getting sick again better than the natural immunity I already possess.
Let me add a further, crucial point here: young and healthy high-school and college students who had COVID absolutely should not be coerced to submit to forced vaccinations. This is particularly personal to me. College-age kids in my own family have had COVID. And I personally know of college-age kids in my area who received the vaccine and have had horrific side effects. One of them developed myocarditis and then pneumonia after receiving the vaccine. The destruction to her heart was so total that she just this week received a heart transplant, which is a brutal procedure. She will be lucky to live, and her long-term, lifelong prognosis is questionable at best. If that girl was forced to be vaccinated against her will, especially by a school or college, then her parents need to consider suing.
A final point: the COVID vaccines are fully available for free to any and literally every American who wants to receive them and thereby receive their artificial immunity. That’s their choice, too. And with their now-achieved vaccine-induced immunity, there’s no justification for them demanding that others (especially COVID survivors) get a vaccine against their will. They’re protected, and they should leave others alone.
To force Americans who had COVID, or to force any American who did or didn’t have the virus, to inject experimental vaccines into their bodies is a serious violation of civil liberties. It also seems to be proving a violation of common sense and the medical science. There are literally millions out there like me, and if the government or employers try to strong-arm them, there are going to be countless lawsuits. And for good reason.