In one ranking of 20 pandemics that have occurred throughout recorded history, COVID-19 ranks eighth in the estimated number of total deaths caused worldwide. However, were the estimates of various pandemics’ death tolls adjusted to take account of the planet’s population at the time they occurred, COVID-19 would rank much lower. While it’s estimated that 4.5 million people have died from COVID-19, that’s on a planet with a population of around 7.8 billion. That’s a worldwide death rate of 0.06% (so far). In the second century, the Antonine plague is estimated to have killed 5 million people with a worldwide population of 200 million. That’s a death rate of 2.5%, over 40 times higher than that of COVID-19. Similarly, plagues in the 17th century killed 3 million, or 0.5 percent of the population at the time, a rate eight times higher than COVID-19 so far.

Obviously, the COVID-19 pandemic, with all its variants and continuing mutations, is ongoing. Its ranking among pandemics will tragically rise. But does this fact justify some of the police state style mandates, tactics, and paper checks that are occurring today? Are the vaccine resistant some sort of oddity to be studied, gawked at like zoo animals, and then forced to take their medicine? The only way to evaluate various public policy responses to COVID-19 is to look at all the evidence for what it actually is, not for what we hope for or want to believe.

The first thing to recognize is that COVID-19 still mostly targets individuals with comorbidities, especially the aged and obese. This is not to say that if you’re under 40 and are physically fit, you are absolutely safe, but the likelihood of getting sicker from COVID-19 than the rough equivalent of a recovered flu is actually remote. Risk rises considerably for those over 65 years of age, and especially for those over 75. This means that those with comorbidities who are concerned about the risk certainly should take action to protect themselves by wearing N-95 masks (the only masks that are truly effective), well-sealed to their face, if they must go out in public, but otherwise avoid close human contact. The idea that universal vaccination will protect us all, though, is not realistic, as explained next.

Vaccines against COVID-19 aren’t really vaccines, at least not in the sense that we generally think of vaccines. Take the measles vaccine, for example. Once an individual has had the measles vaccine, immunity is about as full as if one had recovered from the measles. Not only can an individual vaccinated for measles not get the measles, the disease can’t be shared, either. With the COVID-19 vaccines, the disease can still be shared. The vaccines confer some immunity, but it’s not uncommon for the vaccinated to contract the disease. Far fewer are hospitalized, but some are, and some even die. The key issue, though, is that a major argument in favor of a vaccine mandate is neutralized when the vaccinated are contagious. An asymptomatic unvaccinated person is essentially only a danger to himself, or at least no more a danger to others than the vaccinated. What’s more, if one is in a low-risk group, it’s arguably better for oneself and others to gain immunity naturally, despite contradicting nonsense from the CDC.

All vaccines carry risks. The very first vaccine, which was for smallpox, involved cutting someone and placing infected pus in the open wound. Some died from it, but people took it anyway because smallpox was so very dangerous. Fortunately, over time that vaccine got safer. The COVID-19 vaccine also has side effects, some serious enough that people have died. One scientific paper argues that deaths directly attributable to the COVID-19 vaccine number in the hundreds of thousands and might even outnumber deaths directly from COVID-19. It also explores potential negative long-term effects that, of course, cannot presently be known. Another scientific paper looked at severe health events for vaccinated groups versus unvaccinated control groups and concluded the vaccinated suffered more. The paper’s title seems to say it all, US COVID-19 Vaccines Proven to Cause More Harm than Good Based on Pivotal Clinical Trial Data Analyzed Using the Proper Scientific Endpoint, “All Cause Severe Morbidity”.

Finally, there’s the whole Ivermectin controversy. Given the facts just presented, some have chosen to forego vaccination and, instead, have placed their hope in old drugs long-proven safe with anti-viral properties like Ivermectin, as COVID-19 therapies. Inexplicably, many, including the U.S. government, have chosen to ridicule such a decision, going so far as to denounce Ivermectin as simply a horse de-wormer. This is despite many studies showing Ivermectin efficacy in treating COVID-19. Much has been made of COVID-19 deaths in India, where the delta variant seems to have originated and where Ivermectin has been in widespread use. Data, however, show that India’s cases roughly number 75 percent of those in the U.S. and deaths per million in India are just over a third of what the U.S. has experienced.

So, should COVID-19 vaccines be mandated for our own good? If COVID-19 carried the risks for everyone of some past pandemics, if modern life didn’t make it possible for those with high risks to isolate and effectively mask, and if there were no credible alternative treatments available, the answer to that question might, and perhaps even should be, yes. But given the facts, not people’s worst fears, the clear and obvious answer is “NO.” Informed individuals should be able to make their own decisions.

Byron Schlomach is Director of the 1889 Institute and can be reached at [email protected].

The opinions expressed in this blog are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the official position of 1889 Institute.