…or, at a minimum, they shouldn’t be boosted. I am not an anti-vaxxer, although my mind has been opened by recent events. But for now, let’s stay with the case at hand: covid 19 vaccines and boosters, which millions of young people are being required to take, whether they like it or not. College students can’t enroll without getting shots, soldiers are kicked out of the Army if they don’t get shots, and so on.
Does this make sense on any theory? Covid is not dangerous to young people, while there is substantial and growing evidence that covid vaccines pose significant dangers to the young. So this study is noteworthy, in part because of who did it: Kevin Bardosh of the University of Washington and University of Edinburgh Medical School; Allison Krug of Artemis Biomedical Communications LLC; Euzebiusz Jamrozik of Oxford University; Trudo Lemmens of the University of Toronto Law School; Salmaan Keshavjee of Harvard Medical School; Vinay Prasad of the University of California, San Francisco; Martin A. Makary of Johns Hopkins University, Department of Surgery; Stefan Baral, John Hopkins University; and Tracy Beth Høeg of the Florida Department of Health and Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital.
I infer that what once could only be whispered, and was banned on YouTube, Facebook and Twitter, can now be said aloud by people with careers to lose. From the abstract:
Students at North American universities risk disenrollment due to third dose COVID-19 vaccine mandates. We present a risk-benefit assessment of boosters in this age group and provide five ethical arguments against mandates. We estimate that 22,000 – 30,000 previously uninfected adults aged 18-29 must be boosted with an mRNA vaccine to prevent one COVID-19 hospitalisation. Using CDC and sponsor-reported adverse event data, we find that booster mandates may cause a net expected harm: per COVID-19 hospitalisation prevented in previously uninfected young adults, we anticipate 18 to 98 serious adverse events, including 1.7 to 3.0 booster-associated myocarditis cases in males, and 1,373 to 3,234 cases of grade ≥3 reactogenicity which interferes with daily activities. Given the high prevalence of post-infection immunity, this risk-benefit profile is even less favourable.
Those findings are stunning. Young people are vastly more likely to be injured by covid boosters than by covid. The authors’ conclusion:
University booster mandates are unethical because: 1) no formal risk-benefit assessment exists for this age group; 2) vaccine mandates may result in a net expected harm to individual young people; 3) mandates are not proportionate: expected harms are not outweighed by public health benefits given the modest and transient effectiveness of vaccines against transmission; 4) US mandates violate the reciprocity principle because rare serious vaccine-related harms will not be reliably compensated due to gaps in current vaccine injury schemes; and 5) mandates create wider social harms. We consider counter-arguments such as a desire for socialisation and safety and show that such arguments lack scientific and/or ethical support. Finally, we discuss the relevance of our analysis for current 2-dose CCOVIDovid-19 vaccine mandates in North America.
That the covid vaccines have proved disappointing, no one can deny. But the evidence seems clear that endlessly vaccinating young people is a terrible idea, and I suspect ongoing data collection will show that the age at which vaccination is a net benefit is quite high.