The Science Is the Sticking Point

January 4, 2022

"Never let the facts get in the way of bad policy" could be the official motto of the Biden administration. It certainly describes the attitude of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which yesterday authorized a "booster" dose of the COVID vaccine for children aged 12-15 and for immunocompromised children aged 5-11. To authorize the booster for children, the FDA completely circumvented its own scientific advisory board. "Members of advisory panels have literally resigned over this issue," said Dr. Andrew Bostom, a clinical trialist and epidemiologist who is currently a research physician at Brown University. Whatever happened to "follow the science?"

Perhaps "science" was always merely an expedient justification for following something else -- fear perhaps, or power. Thus, when the justification no longer coincided with the ends sought, of course the Biden administration discarded it. Perhaps that's why the FDA and CDC are deliberately hiding their data from public inspection. The scientific case for vaccinating young children was "flimsy" to begin with, said Bostom, based upon a relatively small trial with no serious cases of COVID-19 or hospitalizations in either group. Monday, the FDA also shortened the required interval between the second and third vaccine doses from six months to five, which tacitly admits the vaccine is effective for a shorter period than previously thought. That undermines the case for universal vaccination, and for forcing life-altering penalties upon those who refuse.

Of course, the Omicron variant changes everything -- just not in the way the Biden administration expects. When the variant first emerged in South Africa in late November, early reports suggested that Omicron was less severe but more transmissible than previous variants. The data have largely confirmed that, as other governments have recognized; while cases are skyrocketing, deaths are falling. Even a modest rise in hospitalized patients who test positive for COVID may be entirely incidental; one hospital system clarified that 57 percent of COVID positive patients were "admitted... primarily for non-COVID reasons." "We have an historical precedent, perhaps, for this," said Bostom. A coronavirus called the Russian flu, which circulated between 1889 and 1891, was "a very aggressive disease initially," but was superseded by a mild variant that now circulates as one of the coronaviruses that cause the common cold.

In other words, a million daily reported cases of the Omicron variant does not mean the COVID pandemic is four times worse in terms of hospitalizations and deaths than when a quarter million daily cases of the Delta variant were reported last January. It does mean that the vaccines, while more effective at preventing severe illness, will not provide herd immunity against infection. And that means that "zero covid" is an unrealistic, ever-shifting objective.

Exactly six months ago today, President Joe Biden declared that COVID "no longer controls our lives, it no longer paralyzes our nation, and it's within our power to make sure it never does so again." Ever since, the administration has obsessed ceaselessly over the virus, threatening to ruin the livelihoods of anyone who refuses the vaccine and expanding its use for children as young as five, to whom the virus poses virtually no risk. At this point, panicky governmental officials imposing irrational mandates may do more harm than the virus itself.

But just as the Biden administration has failed to control the virus, so it has failed to control Americans. And the longer it clings to policies that fly in the face of science, the more opposition it will face.