By Joel M. Zinberg, Competitive Enterprise Institute
In a recent article Dr. Anthony Fauci acknowledged that, from the beginning of the pandemic, there was good reason to believe that vaccines against the respiratory virus that causes COVID-19—SARS-CoV-2—would provide limited protection against infection and only for a short time. Like many other respiratory viruses such as influenza, which causes the flu, SARS-CoV-2 infects the nasal mucosa and rapidly replicates there causing illness and onward transmission to others before the body mounts an immunologic response. That’s why influenza vaccines are generally well below 50 percent effective and with a duration measured in months.
The initial COVID vaccines reportedly had 90 percent effectiveness. But that effectiveness rapidly waned within months of the shot. And initial effectiveness plunged as new variants emerged revealing, Fauci admits, “deficiencies in these vaccines reminiscent of influenza vaccines.”
Vaccination mandates such as those for health care workers in hospitals and nursing homes made some sense early in the pandemic to protect those essential workers and to protect the vulnerable people they care for. Yet, while COVID vaccines continue to protect against severe illness and death, they have largely lost their ability to stop viral transmission.
So why did Dr. Fauci persist in pushing vaccine mandates? Thousands of workers who were, perhaps ill-advisedly, willing to risk severe illness themselves, were fired even though vaccines would protect neither them nor their coworkers from infection. Essential personnel including firefighters, police, and the military have been lost.
Fauci’s prolonged reluctance to acknowledge the predictable shortcomings of COVID vaccines has undermined trust in public health authorities. Even with government efforts to censure “misinformation,” the decreased effectiveness of vaccines in stopping transmission became public knowledge. When the next pandemic comes, people may have little faith in the advice they receive, with potentially disastrous consequences.
Joel M. Zinberg, M.D., J.D. is a senior fellow with the Competitive Enterprise Institute.