The failures of the elites: COVID-19 vaccine mandates and passports

posted: February 11, 2023

tl;dr: The mandates and passports could not make the vaccines perform well enough to stop COVID-19...

As the COVID-19 lockdowns dragged on, the apparent success of Operation Warp Speed to develop, manufacture, and distribute safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines to the American public seemed to offer the best way back to normalcy. U.S. public health officials had bet very heavily on vaccines as the solution from the earliest days of the pandemic. The Biden administration upped the ante by mandating vaccines where it had statutory authority to do so, and many governors followed suit. Vaccine passport programs were enacted in many states and at the U.S. border in order to deny unvaccinated people access to various venues, with the aim of making life so unenjoyable and difficult for the unvaccinated that they would relent and take the vaccine. In the end, the vaccines did not deliver on their initial promises and the vaccine mandates and passports exacerbated major divisions in society.

The elites who got it wrong:

Who got it right:

A black and white printed card, with two emblems of U.S. government agencies in the upper right, and some fields along with a four column, four row table for information to be filled in about a person's COVID-19 vaccine doses

The U.S. vaccine passport that, if filled out, could keep someone employed, in school, or provide access to many public venues

What the elites said would happen:

The vaccines were pitched to the public as being safe and effective. Some deny this now, but at the time they said that the vaccines both stopped infection and transmission, breaking the chain of community spread that was causing the pandemic to persist. By mandating vaccines where they could, and using vaccine passports to make life unpleasant and difficult for people who refused the vaccine, the elites believed they were taking strong action to end the pandemic. The lockdowns could finally end, and life could return to normal for those who had a vaccine passport.

What I said at the time:

I didn’t write publicly about the vaccines because it was a sensitive topic. So here’s my story, which those who are close to me know:

I got one dose of the Janssen/Johnson & Johnson (J&J) COVID-19 vaccine shortly after my age group became eligible, which happened to be at the same time that the J&J first was available in my state. Getting J&J was a lark: I signed up for the two-dose regime, but when I showed up for my first shot I chatted up the pharmacist, who said they had just gotten some J&J and I could have that if I wanted. One-and-done sounded pretty darn good to me at that point in the pandemic, so that’s what I chose. It knocked me for a loop (chills and severe tiredness) for roughly 24 hours, unlike any vaccine I’ve ever taken in my life. It certainly gave the perception of having been rushed to market before it could be fine-tuned to reduce side effects.

That’s it. I’ve never knowingly contracted COVID-19, although everyone in my household has fallen sick and tested positive for it. I felt somewhat ill after each family member had their bouts, but nothing too serious and I never bothered taking a test. So I know I’ve been exposed to the virus and have reason to believe that my antibodies have been boosted recently. Perhaps this is how some healthcare workers feel.

Looking beyond myself, I was always very skeptical of the vaccines benefits for younger folks because of their radically different risk/reward profiles. As more people contracted COVID-19, I was hopeful that natural immunity combined with vaccines for older folks would get us back to normal. When the Biden administration came into office and mandated vaccines with no exemption for having had COVID-19 previously, I said it was a huge mistake, a triumph of politics over science. I knew there would be negative impact in various sectors of the economy as people left or got fired, and that it would amplify the political divisions that exist in the country. Even if the vaccines had been 100% safe and effective, there was no need to mandate them: people would have seen the real-world results, and vaccine hesitancy would have declined to negligible levels over time as more safety data was amassed.

What actually happened:

The vaccines, much to my and everyone’s regret, did not live up to the initial hype. Breakthrough infections, in which fully vaccinated people came down with COVID-19, were the first sign that the vaccines were not delivering as promised. Occasional serious side effects, including myocarditis, were documented by doctors and scientists. Waves of COVID-19 infections continued to happen even after most of the population had been vaccinated. Eventually, even fully vaccinated and boosted Dr. Anthony Fauci himself caught COVID-19, for which he took two rounds of the therapeutic Paxlovid. Faith in the COVID-19 vaccines declined, as evidenced by fewer and fewer people taking each subsequent booster round.

The vaccine mandates and passports had a very real, negative impact on the economy and quality of life. The passports were especially harmful to tourism, performance arts, and restaurants, as they kept patrons away, especially families with children. The mandates caused skilled professionals to leave, contributing to staffing shortages in areas such as healthcare, transportation, and the military. Some students left or transferred because of vaccine mandates. Eventually, the mandates and passports had to be eliminated, a process that is still happening as I write this.

What the elites got wrong:

There actually were medical scientists and vaccine experts who, at the very onset of the pandemic, expressed skepticism that a flu-like respiratory illness caused by a coronavirus, as is the common cold, could be eradicated with a vaccine. The virus would mutate into new variants too quickly and continue to spread, resulting in a best-case outcome similar to the flu vaccine, where new vaccines have to be developed every year, and which are only somewhat effective. This seeded some initial doubt in my mind, but Dr. Fauci was adamant that a COVID-19 vaccine would end the pandemic by achieving herd immunity.

The elites painted themselves into a corner with the lockdowns. The question raised by lockdowns applied everywhere they were done, whether in the United States, New Zealand, or China: what needs to happen in order for the lockdowns to end? As soon as “two weeks to flatten the curve” passed and the lockdowns continued, it was clear that there was no plan for ending the lockdowns. The apparent success of Operation Warp Speed finally gave the elites in the U.S. the out that they needed, and they came down hard with vaccine mandates and passports as the best way to return to normalcy.

There were multiple huge problems with the mandates and passports:

On that last point, a scientific article co-authored by Dr. Anthony Fauci was published just this week with the title Rethinking next-generation vaccines for coronaviruses, influenzaviruses, and other respiratory viruses. It contains many observations about the failure of the COVID-19 vaccines to stop the pandemic, including this admission of what some scientists said from the beginning: “it is not surprising that none of the predominantly mucosal respiratory viruses have ever been effectively controlled by vaccines.” Now he tells us, after so much damage has been done from the mandates and passports.

The mandates and passports showed that the elites fundamentally failed to understand two important aspects of human behavior: the general populace’s distrust of authority because of past failures; and their own desire to come up with a solution, any solution, that would get life back to normal, even one that was doomed.

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