Fear and Misinformation Drive the COVID Debate

July 14, 2021

Something strange is happening on the way out of the COVID pandemic. Instead of science and common sense leading the way, a sense of fear and an urge to shame seems to be at the heart of a push for universal COVID vaccination, particularly from the Left.

As the Biden administration doubles down on the idea of vaccine mandates and liberal CNN analyst (and former Planned Parenthood president) Leana Wen insists that "It needs to be hard for people to remain unvaccinated," serious questions remain. Is it really medically necessary for everyone, regardless of age and infection status, to get the COVID vaccine? Shouldn't Americans have the freedom to decide if they want to get a shot that remains under emergency provision and is unapproved by the FDA, does not have studies that indicate possible long-term health effects, may cause serious health complications, and may be derived from the fetal cell lines of aborted babies?

Dr. Jay Bhattacharya, a professor of medicine at Stanford University, joined "Washington Watch" to bring some much-needed expert clarity to the swirl of sobering questions surrounding COVID vaccines.

"I think mandates in the context of this vaccine and this pandemic are going to be very bad for public health," he said. "The public health community at large has in many ways failed us. It politicized the vaccine. It politicized the virus and has undermined public trust in them. If you were to mandate the vaccine rather than just telling people, 'here are the numbers about for whom it's beneficial, for whom it might not make so much sense' and treat people like adults, that's the right way to do public health. Instead, we have a push toward mandating [and] forc[ed] coercion that I think in the long run further undermines trust in public health."

With such a huge push for vaccine mandates, it would be easy to assume that there must be a dire medical necessity for everyone, both young and old, to be vaccinated across the board. But does the medical evidence back this up?

"There's a thousand-fold difference in the risk of mortality from the disease from the oldest to the youngest," Bhattacharya pointed out. "Give people the information, the solid, good scientific information, let them make their own choice. And that is how public health gains trust. That's how public health becomes effective. And that's how the pandemic actually ends, not with coercion, but with good medicine conveyed by trustworthy people treating [the public] like adults as opposed to serfs."

And for the millions of Americans who have already been infected with COVID and have survived, do they need to get the vaccine?

"Natural immunity is quite effective at preventing you from reinfection," Bhattacharya said. "100 million people [in the U.S. have been] infected, at least. And yet we have very few [re]infections. It protects you against the variants as well ... I read the scientific evidence around natural immunity ... If you had COVID and recovered from it, then you're protected against that just as much as you would be if you had the vaccine."

Bhattacharya went on to express his puzzlement at why this is not being acknowledged by the leading public health officials. "[It's] a very odd denial of natural immunity ... I don't understand it," he said. "It's as if the only valid immunity is vaccine induced immunity ... If you've had the virus and recovered, you have natural immunity. There are an enormous number of studies in prominent journals that have established this. I don't really understand why the public health community has not incorporated [this] into their thinking in a deep way."

Bhattacharya also underscored another important aspect of the debate that doesn't seem to be getting any attention: why isn't the vaccine being distributed to those most in need? "There are tens of millions of older people worldwide who have not had the vaccine," he noted. "Why are we discussing vaccinating a population of people, younger people who face very low risk if they were to get infected, while still tens of millions of people worldwide have not had the protection of the vaccine? Just because they don't live in a rich country doesn't mean they don't deserve to have this kind of medical care available to them."

Don't miss the full discussion with Dr. Bhattacharya on this vitally important issue