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In February 2021, Scott W. Atlas of the Hoover Institution spoke at a Hillsdale College event. Here’s an excerpt of his speech, from Hillsdale’s Imprimis publication:
The COVID pandemic has been a tragedy, no doubt. But it has exposed profound issues in America that threaten the principles of freedom and order that we Americans often take for granted.
First, I have been shocked at the unprecedented exertion of power by the government since last March – issuing unilateral decrees, ordering the closure of businesses, churches, and schools, restricting personal movement, mandating behavior, and suspending indefinitely basic freedoms. Second, I was and remain stunned – almost frightened – at the acquiescence of the American people to such destructive, arbitrary, and wholly unscientific rules, restrictions, and mandates.
The pandemic also brought to the forefront things we have known existed and have tolerated for years: media bias, the decline of academic freedom on campuses, the heavy hand of Big Tech, and – now more obviously than ever – the politicization of science. Ultimately, the freedom of Americans to seek and state what they believe to be the truth is at risk.
The man has a point. If there’s anything we’ve learned through the nearly 18 months of the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s that nothing is certain. We even don’t know what we don’t know. Nations, politicians, scientists, physicians, the media and educators are among the “experts” confusing people. How many times has the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention inexplicably changed its guidance? How many times has Trump/Biden adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci contradicted himself? Americans are faced with lies, conflicting guidance, mockery, changing mandates, overreach, denial, blame … even arrest.
It’s no surprise, then, that while there is “acquiescence” by many, others are leery. For crying out loud, to avoid a virus whose source you don’t know, you’re allowing a hastily constructed experimental emergency treatment to be injected into you? Have you seen how long the paperwork is for each of the COVID-19 vaccines? Did you actually READ the fine print?
For example, the Moderna vaccine, which I received, is described in a nine-page form as an “investigational vaccine not licensed for any indication.” The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued an “Emergency Use Authorization” for the vaccine during the public health emergency.
Yes, you read correctly. I decided to be vaccinated. And 12 days later, I’m still recovering from the shock to my system of the second dose. I made a personal decision that the benefits of vaccination are worth the risk. (I also shared a darkly humorous photo on social media about my recovery from the vaccination.)
Millions, of course, see nothing funny in the virus. For many, it’s resulted in long-term ailments. For others, it’s been fatal. So, too, has the vaccine.
It was July last year Business Insider reported, “While some drug companies have entered trial stages and shown positive results, there is still no guarantee a working vaccine will ever be developed for COVID-19.”
With record-breaking speed, three vaccines have already been approved for U.S. emergency use. Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines are available for those willing to accept the risk of side-effects and aftereffects; the vaccine manufacturers will have no liability under the emergency use authorization. Across the globe, other vaccines have been developed and are being approved and distributed by Russia and China.
With equal haste, those who reject COVID-19 vaccination are being demonized and declared Neanderthals and a danger to the rest of society.
It’s premature to declare who made the smart decision in this case. It’s too soon to know the long-term effects of the vaccinations or the virus. Time will give the “resistance” the advantage of observing the experiences of the vaccinated and the infected. One can only hope our experience (as the vaccinated) is a positive beginning to the end of the virus and its potent variants. Thus far, the timeline of the disease and the preventive vaccines are infinitesimal in the big scheme of things.
View opponents of the vaccination with disdain if you will. In just about 18 months, COVID-19 has killed 3 million people worldwide, most of them older, frail or with pre-existing conditions. The first U.S. case was reported on January 21, 2020. U.S. vaccinations began December 14.
For comparison: According to This Day in History, the trials of Dr. Jonas Salk’s polio vaccine began on April 26 in 1954. The field trials, the largest in history involving 1.8 million children, began at the Franklin Sherman Elementary School in McLean, Va. One year later, on April 12, 1955, researchers announced the vaccine was safe and effective and it became a standard part of U.S. childhood immunizations against the highly infectious disease. While polio appears to have paralyzed and killed through the centuries, it wasn’t until 1908 that the polio virus was isolated by Austrian physicians Austria, Karl Landsteiner and Erwin Popper. It takes a lot of eggs to make an omelet; many lives were lost during the experimentation that ultimately led to a successful polio vaccine.
Americans who are skeptical or waiting a while are not being shortsighted or stupid. They’re being Americans. And who knows? They may be the Last Ones Standing!
Compiled by Benita M. Dodd, vice president of the Georgia Public Policy Foundation.