Vaccine and mask heresy seeps into the New York Times, via physician-readers commenting on “What We Know So Far About Waning Vaccine Effectiveness”:
Ben: I am a physician. We need to look at risks and benefits of vaccines and masks. The vaccines seem to protect against serious illness and hospitalization and make sense in terms of risk and benefit for adults. But this is no longer a pandemic but this is endemic. We need to understand the endgame. Covid will always be around like the flu even if every human in the world was immunized due to both vaccine failures and animal reservoirs. The best way to prevent serious illness is to reduce obesity as nearly 80% of deaths and hospitalizations are in obese people. This is not fat shaming but fatsplaining. This is why the USA has so many deaths whereas thinner countries have less. Covid is not going [away] even after reaching promised “herd immunity” percentages of 80% if one adds vaccinated and infected people. Also, masks don’t eliminate covid risk but perhaps delay it statistically until we are older and at higher risk. Thus, we just need to accept that this is just another potential way to die. Masking and social distancing worsens obesity with less exercise and walking, depression and suicide, and hurting kids development as they should be seeing faces. The masks at this point are worse than the disease. And let nature take care of the unvaccinated (and vaccinated) instead of dividing the country. We ban the unvaccinated from work but don’t ban obesity which is a higher risk? I am over covid and want to live my remaining years in peace without masks.
Jeff: @Ben Totally agree. As physicians we are constantly reminded of what an incredibly unhealthy society we have become. Nearly every aspect of medical care is complicated by obesity. It is really impressive that as a disease that has never existed before, COVID is yet again trying to smack us across the face of how unhealthy we are. All the politicized articles written early in the pandemic about how badly the US was performing relative to other countries provided zero context about the biggest factor for the disparity . . . The US is incredibly fat! That 50% of a [country’s] population is looked at as high risk for COVID is deplorable. If half the money/effort spent of COVID related stimulus/prevention were given to improving the daily health of our country, we would save exponentially more lives than COVID itself will ever claim.
These docs raise the same point that I’ve been making here for more than 1.5 years, i.e., that locking people at home next to their refrigerators is not the most obvious optimum public health response to a virus that attacks the fat and sedentary. (And in Massachusetts and California, at least, both brownie mix stores and marijuana shops were deemed “essential” so people were encouraged to stay home, smoke dope, and consume pans of brownies whenever the munchies prompted.) What’s new? The idea that, to the extent natural immunity via infection matters, avoiding COVID-19 could actually be harmful because you’ll just get it when you’re older and fatter. (Counterargument: those magic antiviral drugs we’ve read about will actually work, unlike most previously touted magic drugs, such as Prozac, whose initial efficacy claims could not be replicated.)
They also point out that, if we had budgeted $10 trillion and a lot of individual effort/sacrifice, there are many things that we could do that would save a lot more life-years than continuing to fight in the COVID trenches. (I began pointing this out at least as early as March 26, 2020, e.g., with Why do we care about COVID-19 deaths more than driving-related deaths? and then augmented in Save lives by limiting cars to 35 mph?)
If we’re serious enough about public health to suspend the Constitution, e.g., the First Amendment right to assemble, and to close schools, why aren’t we serious enough to ban sweets and junk food until American average BMI trends downward? Why is it legal for a pharmacy to have a sale on candy (as CVS often does)? Although I love them, why is it legal for potato chips to be sold in the U.S.? If restaurants are required to check vaccination tags, why aren’t restaurants required to check BMI for every customer and then limit the number of calories served to customers over a threshold of 25?
From a CVS in Newton, Maskachusetts, October 2021 (enter past a bunch of signs regarding protecting oneself from COVID-19 via masking, then walk out with 10,000 calories of chocolate):
(Ben, the first physician quoted, also says what the Swedish MD/PhDs said in February 2020: you’re not going to avoid COVID, no matter how long you hide in your bunker. So don’t change your lifestyle unless you’re happy to make it a permanent change. That’s another great argument in favor of moving to Florida! The outdoor lifestyle protects against every kind of respiratory virus and it is not an onerous adaption to sit with friends at sidewalk tables or to play tennis outdoors rather than to sit home alone and watch TV.)
Also in the comments for this article, from a Russian trying to influence our elections?
Yuriy: If the vaccines lose effectiveness against infection over time (something that we have known already for a couple of months) then there is no point to vaccine mandates! Vaccine mandates are about protecting other people and Covid spread. If vaccines don’t do that then they are just protecting vaccinated people from hospitalization and death, which sounds like a personal health choice. What is the point of forcing resistant adults and children (who have almost no risk to Covid) to get vaccinated when this doesn’t stop virus spread and just causes conflict in society?
I think the best answer to Yuri is that the government’s forced vaccinations wouldn’t cause conflict if people would #FollowScience and accept vaccinations. Alternatively, those who refuse vaccinations for themselves and their 5-year-olds can be placed in Protection Camps. Then they’re no longer part of “society” and, thus, society becomes conflict-free.
Let’s take a look at Germany (lockdowns, mask orders, and mandatory vaccine paper checks) versus the Swedish Free State:
It certainly look consistent with what Dr. Ben said, above. The Germans completely transformed their society and ended up deferring, rather than avoiding, a lot of COVID-19 cases. Perhaps Germany will ultimately have a slightly lower COVID-19 death rate than Sweden’s, due to the fact that more of the infections are coming after vaccination and better drug therapies, so this will be a “success” from the point of view of folks who judge a society’s success by the sole criterion of COVID leaderboard position.