Guest Opinion: A Coronavirus Vaccine Should Not Be Mandatory


The suggestion the world will not go back to normal until we have a coronavirus vaccine and everyone has been vaccinated is not based in science. 

It has been well documented that roughly 80% of the people who are infected with the current coronavirus -- SARS-CoV-2 -- will only have mild symptoms -- or no symptoms at all. 

A study carried out in Germany on the first patients found they were no longer contagious and could not infect other people about eight days after the onset of symptoms. These patients showed no virus particles capable of replication. Their bodies had destroyed them.  

In the months to come, roughly 80% of the normal healthy population will become infected with the current coronavirus. They will have few if any symptoms as their body’s immune system creates antibodies and the immune system’s killer cells destroy the virus. That will give them natural immunity to the virus without the need for a vaccine as this pandemic fades away. 

Our memories of pandemics are short. Remember SARS or severe acute respiratory syndrome in 2002?  Then there was the bird flu in 2005, swine flu or H1N1  in 1976 and 2009, MERS or Middle East respiratory syndrome in 2012, Ebola 2014 and Zika 2016.  With each, we were told that millions of people could die. Much like today, billions of dollars were spent by our government on each anticipated pandemic.  Researchers have already conceded that a SARS-CoV-2 vaccine might not even be possible. In fact, researchers failed to produce any vaccines against previous outbreaks of SARS and MERS. These outbreaks simply faded away.

And then there’s the issue of vaccine safety.  Vaccine developers are currently rushing to produce vaccines for the current coronavirus with many taking dangerous shortcuts to speed a vaccine to market. During standard clinical trials, scientists are required to first test the vaccine on animals to determine the vaccine’s safety and effectiveness. Only after surviving repeated tests in animal models can a candidate vaccine be tested in human trials. However, in a race to bring a coronavirus vaccine to market “at warp speed” according to President Donald Trump, some of the coronavirus vaccines now under development are bypassing animal trials.  Many experts in the scientific community warn that this is a dangerous shortcut that eliminates important safety measures.  Many scientists have expressed concerns that the rush to vaccinate billions of people with a largely untested experimental coronavirus vaccine will itself represent grave risks to the public.

For example, one such risk is “disease enhancement.” It has been known for over a decade that vaccination against some infections, including those caused by coronaviruses, can actually enhance susceptibility to viral infections and even cause viral infections in healthy vaccine recipients. In other words, the vaccine makes you worse.  Researchers who were attempting to develop a vaccine for the original SARS outbreak discovered the vaccine made the lab animals more susceptible to the disease. The inherent problem with bypassing animal trials with the current coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, is obvious. 

Dr. Peter Hotez, co-director of the Texas Children’s Hospital Center for Vaccine Development in Houston and dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, expressed concern in testimony on March 5 in a coronavirus hearing before the U.S. House Science, Space and Technology Committee. He said: “One of the things we are not hearing a lot about is the unique potential safety problem of coronavirus vaccines.  This was first found in the early 1960s with the respiratory syncytial virus vaccines and it was done here in Washington (DC) with the (National Institutes of Health) and the Children’s National Medical Center.  … Some of these kids that got the vaccine actually did worse and I believe there were two deaths as a consequence of that study.”

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and advisor to Trump also urged caution. He said that when companies start ramping up production of vaccines before they’ve been thoroughly tested, under the assumption that they will work, there’s a risk to the public.

Equally alarming is the fact that no one will be guaranteeing our safety.  Once coronavirus vaccines are made available to the public, no one can be held responsible for any serious reactions, injuries or even potential deaths caused by these fast-tracked coronavirus vaccines. In March, Alex Azar, as secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, issued a declaration invoking the Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness Act of 2005. That declaration essentially grants immunity to drug manufacturers, suppliers and distributors of products that treat or prevent the spread of COVID-19. 

In short, if you or a loved one were injured by a coronavirus vaccine or in the rare case of death, you or your family cannot file a civil lawsuit for damages. 

There are concerns there will be an attempt to make these coronavirus vaccines mandatory for everyone. That would not be good for Oregonians. With the current safety concerns and the reality that 80% of those infected will only experience mild symptoms at worst, Oregonians should be given a choice.

Chiropractor Vern Saboe, Jr. has his own practice Albany and is director of government affairs for the Oregon Chiropractic Association. You can reach him at [email protected].

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Short and sweet: the unvaccinated chooser, having exercised their "freedom," can pass their asymptomatic or common cold mild infection to their neighbor's grandmother, or child on chemotherapy, who may well die.  Of course vaccine safety must be addressed in a correct and sufficient way that balances urgency with safety.  That is very unlikely not to happen despite all the president's reckless verbiage and the fears of vaccine opponents.  Let's not be persuaded by uninformed political arguments about freedom vs. public health, or by a lack of trust in vaccine developers, who are a bunch of smart conscientious people doing their damndest to get this right, and quickly.  God willing that we get an effective vaccine, our freedom will return when most of us have received it. 

This is closer to the need for measles vaccine, than it is to tetanus shots or even diphtheria and pertussis, and more important now because this virus is actively spreading widely, now.  Every indication is that it will continue to spread widely until a vaccine is implemented, or years of illnesses and deaths (and economic "death") finally lead to herd immunity if we don't get a vaccine.  There will need to be social consequences (meaning, some other freedom restricted for the safety of others) for vaccine refusers who don't have a genuine medical contraindication.  Those with a contraindication are the people who deserve "freedom," and have to depend on the herd immunity of their fellow citizens to be protected.

The advocates of freedom on this subject remind me of someone carrying a loaded firearm, cocked, round in chamber, who isn't worried about checking the safety while shopping for groceries next to me.  The fact that the bullet may take several weeks to kill the target is a detail.  The recent estimate that 40% of COVID infections were caught from an asymptomatic spreader is critical information.  As we learn more from testing and contact tracing, about how many asymptomatic or mild cases are going unrecognized, that percentage will likely go up, not down.  Comparing this to a loaded gun with a careless owner is just a good way to keep it in focus.

D. Thieman MD

I was going to write a rebuttal and then realized there are too many points to counter. Then I looked up who he was - a chiropractor. It is clear now that he has a vested interest in arguing against vaccines and simultaneously, doesn't have the education to understand them. It is apparent he can't even understand what the scientific community knows about the issues of safety versus efficacy. Arguing point by point against someone peddling fear out of ignorance simply isn't worth it. I write this paricular response in the event someone who may give his points credibilty - there is partial truth, but is mixed with many more untruths and is thus a fools errand to untangle.