Columns

Herd Immunity Now!

AP Photo/LM Otero

The headline for this column—Herd Immunity Now!—is absurdist on its face. Herd immunity is a scientific, microbiological process. It cannot be called for in a political or rhetorical sense, like “Death Penalty Now!” or “Impeach Biden Now!” It’s kind of like saying “Photosynthesis Now!”

But what if? What if a comprehensive regimen of recommended policies aimed at achieving a viable level of herd immunity over COVID-19 and its variants were to be crafted by a very different ideological leadership than we have now and sent down to the states? What would they look like? What would the sacrifices entail, and would they be worth the benefits derived from a radical departure from the way we’ve been fighting coronavirus?

There are so many things about the virus that the general public has been led to believe nobody understands. If you’ve had real-deal COVID, you’ve had live viral agents in your system; if you’ve been vaccinated, you’ve been injected with the dead virus. What on God’s green earth is the difference in terms of immunity development?

If, as an unvaccinated person, you’ve survived your bout with coronavirus, and experts still recommend getting jabbed and getting boosters, does that not mean that becoming ill offers no certifiable immunity whatsoever? Vaccines wane ineffectiveness, and viruses continue to inexorably mutate. Will boosters be required for the rest of everyone’s life?

In fairness, it’s a new disease that the Chinese, with the help of Anthony “Gain of Function” Fauci’s NIH, may have unleashed upon the planet. It’s understandable that there are unknowables. On the other hand, as cynics among us may suspect, the unknowable factor may be as inflated as Joe Biden’s economy. Simply follow the pharmacological money to understand what may well be the overarching Big Pharma strategy for “combatting” the pandemic.  Why haven’t proven therapeutic drugs, some of them quite inexpensive, been more aggressively deployed?

Nobody doubts the tragic losses humanity has suffered from this viral plague. The death count is real, although again, probably inflated somewhat by the dreaded comorbidities. At the same time, concerns about the vaccines are utterly valid. The polio vaccine was years in development; the COVID vaccine was understandably rushed in development, and so the unknowables mount.

What would happen if a Republican-controlled House and Senate, in early 2023, passed aggressive herd immunity policy legislation, which codified federal guidelines for the states and freed the states to implement said legislation, or not, without fear of federal meddling in the business of COVID response management?

The four-pronged approach would look something like this:

At-risk populations—the elderly, the infirm, the immunocompromised, the obese—would be strongly advised but not mandated to get vaccinated and take other sensible precautions against the virus and the inevitable development of future variants. The import of the guidelines would be that everybody else should be free to live life as it was lived prior to 2020—in essence, take their chances.  

Upon recommendation of federal guidelines, including those from Republican-appointed directors at the NIH and CDC, all mask mandates could be immediately lifted. Stores and businesses, professional offices, and any private sector entity would be freed via a waiver of legal liability after dropping the requirement for face masks on their premises. Wherever permitted by state and local laws, customers and clients would be free to choose to do business in places where masks were not required. States would be free to embrace the push for herd immunity, or not.

Vaccination against COVID-19 would become entirely a matter of personal choice under the new guidelines. No civil right under the U.S. Constitution could be abrogated on the grounds that an individual chose not to receive the vaccination, with real penalties forthcoming for those who discriminate against the unvaccinated.   

Every therapeutic drug that has shown even a glimmer of promise against fighting the virus once contracted would be immediately fast-tracked for accelerated federal viability testing, and when shown effective, widely dispersed against the infection, free of the suppressive meddling of Big Pharma and other profit-motivated entities.  

This columnist is obviously not a microbiological expert and won’t play one on the internet. But an understanding of epidemics shows that a prime characteristic of infectious microorganisms is that in their own inscrutable “intelligences,” they do not want to kill their hosts. They “want” to infect evermore organisms, thus propagating their despicable existences. As the virus spreads to more and more hosts, it waters down, as it were, and for most members of the human race ceases to be a life-threatening illness.

There is, of course, a rich political angle to all this, which has been hashed over ad infinitum since the onset of the plague, an incendiary debate about how Democrats have attempted to use the crisis to cower and control the populace and, theoretically, to steal an election.

That is not this. This is about whether or not it is time to legislatively get out of the way and let God and nature take their course, letting the chips fall where they may, and in so doing possibly render COVID-19 no more deadly to the vast majority than the common cold.

Could a motivated Republican Party bring widespread immunity to the masses, or would it take a certain somebody currently ensconced at Mar-a-Lago?

Would we be better off or worse off? We can’t go on like this forever.

Herd Immunity Now?