Vaccinations; A reconsideration

Vaccinations; A reconsideration

In my previous post “Something to consider surrounding COVID19 vaccination”, I outlined an often overlooked factor when considering getting vaccinated. At the time, I called this factor “principle”, though “politics” would also be an accurate descriptor.

Since the writing of that post, I have had the pleasure of engaging in conversation with many intelligent and well-read students and professors at my university. One professor in particular reacted quite passionately to learning of my vaccination status. A direct line can be drawn from that conversation and this post today.

Primarily, this teacher pointed out that I was limiting his freedom because he was forced to be more careful around me. Generally, I find the argument that “the unvaccinated” are restricting the freedom of others quite nonsensical. The reason for this is that usually, this argument states roughly: “Because of those who refuse vaccination, we will have lockdowns, social distancing, masks, etc.” This line of reasoning does not hold because my stance has always been that the virus itself does not mandate these measures we all despise. Instead, governments around the world mandate these measures. As such, politicians restrict the people’s freedom, not the unvaccinated.

However, this line of reasoning of mine of course did not hold against the professor’s approach. If I wanted to argue against his line of reasoning, I would have to prove that he in fact did not need to be more careful around me than around vaccinated people.

To prove this, scientific research must be taken into account. Almost always when a blog, video-essay or social-media-post reports on scientific research, it is poorly done (in my experience). Specifically, many people simply search for the first study that seems to verify their claims. I will of-course attempt to avoid this pitfall. If I am unsuccessful in your opinion, I invite you to contact me.

To start, let me stay that for this post in particular, I am not interested in any data relating to how effective the various vaccines are in preventing serious illness. I am well aware that the research is quite conclusive in favour of the vaccinations providing this form of protection.

What the focus of this post will be is analysing research conceding the effectiveness of “reducing spread ability” in vaccinated persons. Early vaccination trials were inconclusive in this regard. It left open the possibility for vaccinated, asymptomatic virus-speaders. Other research1 has already proven that asymptomatic persons can indeed spread Sars-Cov2.

However, one should not that earlier trials left the possibility open, in other words, it neither confirmed nor denied the ability for vaccinated people to spread the virus. A trial by the coronavirus prevention network is currently being set-up to determine whether to bring clarity to this issue.

If the vaccination stops one from spreading COVID-19, that is called sterilizing immunity. Sterilizing immunity would, from a virological perspective, justify the reduction of COVID measures, such as mask wearing or social distancing, only for the vaccinated part of the population.

As far as “natural immunity” (immunity trough recovery) goes, here, the research is also fairly inconclusive. It is known that people who have recovered from COVID-19 can be reinfected again. The exact timeframe wherein a recovered person stays immune is as of yet unknown for COVID-19 (according to MIT). Furthermore, whether a recovered person has sterilizing immunity is also unknown (MIT).

For vaccinations, a similar story holds. The center for disease control (henceforth CDC) reports not knowing how long vaccine immunity lasts. For this reason, the CDC, the US department of Health and Human services (HHS) and various other governments (UK, Israel) have made plans to give COVID booster shots to renew immunity.

To summarize: - Vaccinated people may spread the virus while immune (research in progress) - Vaccinated people may lose immunity over time and spread the virus again - Recovered people may spread the virus while immune - Recovered people may lose immunity over time and spread the virus again - Unvaccinated, non-recovered people may spread the virus as well (obviously)

With such inconclusive data, I can do nothing but wait for more research to be done. If the trial by the coronavirus prevention network concludes that the vaccines protect against spreading the virus (in other words, if they give sterilizing immunity) then I will have to reconsider my position. Given that I am putting others at greater risk by not getting vaccinated myself.

Until then though, I will continue to view vaccination as a personal choice affecting only one’s own health. And as such, I will hold my ground and make my choice on political grounds.

Anyone who disagrees with my assessment, or who thinks I have misinterpreted, ignored or overlooked, is welcome to respond to this post by email. If you wish for your reply to be public, let me know in the email and I will attach your comment to the post.

  1. Just 2% of SARS-CoV-2-positive individuals carry 90% of the virus circulating in communities; Yang et all

Editors note / Update

It has been a few days since I wrote this post originally, and I have been searching and reading papers and articles on the subject since. Primarily, I keep stumbling upon government websites, like this one , that state that:

“COVID-19 vaccines reduce the risk of people spreading the virus that causes COVID-19” without citing any papers to back these claims up.

Not only is this infuriating, it is also strange. The CDC (who I have linked above) actually provides a lot of information trough hyperlinks, following them eventually takes you to scientific-, peer-reviewed-studies. Just on this specific point, it seems like they did not feel the need to annotate where their claims originate from.

If you do manage to find such a paper, please reach out to me so that I can update this post to be as accurate as possible.