On “The Five” on Tuesday, the subject of vaccine mandates came up. Because the hosts live in New York City, the panic is setting in. Emergency responders, including firefighters, police officers, and emergency medical technicians, took to the streets to protest vaccine mandates ahead of the deadline. They worked in the trenches throughout the pandemic while members of the Zoom class, like Geraldo Rivera, could shelter in place and still get paid.
Rivera went full vaccine mandate authoritarian, declaring he has no tolerance for the unvaccinated. After claiming he was an open-minded and inclusive person, he said, “With 700,000 dead Americans, I have zero patience for people who are not getting vaccinated.” Rivera continued, “I am all for, 100% in for, vaccine mandates.” Rivera is as old as the Dementia Patient in Chief and nearly the age of the nation’s leading infectious disease specialist. So, it may be a function of how much you have to fear as someone over 65. And, of course, how confident you are in the vaccine you agreed to get.
Rivera was not finished. He extended his frustration to freedom-loving vaccinated people. “Furthermore, the thing I detest is vaccinated people who are cheering on the unvaccinated to stand up for their freedoms.” Overall it was a pretty good impression of President Biden losing his patience with the unvaccinated when he announced the mandate. The commentary is also just as absurd.
If you want people to get vaccinated, you should at least try to make them believe it will protect them from COVID-19’s worst outcomes. This talking point is the one the health experts repeat over and over again. However, Biden and Rivera have both lost this thread. They contend that unvaccinated individuals pose a threat to the vaccinated. Both of these things cannot be true.
Greg Gutfeld and Dagen McDowell eviscerated Rivera following his comments, contending that the more significant threat to public safety in New York City is losing 20-30% of the first responders. Gutfeld pointed out that many commentators demanding compliance live in areas that won’t be affected by fewer officers. McDowell took offense to the idea of firing them after they worked through the unknowns of the early pandemic.
As CDC Director Rochelle Walensky told us when she recommended universal masking in indoor spaces, the vaccinated and the unvaccinated can carry similar viral loads. The idea that Rivera is at greater risk from the unvaccinated than the vaccinated is absurd. In reality, a vaccinated colleague could carry a very high viral load with minimal symptoms and infect an unvaccinated person. It is also notable that the unvaccinated are unworried. Most would have no problem being in Rivera’s presence.
This group includes first responders, who performed their job when New York City needed them before vaccines were available. They did their job even when masks were in short supply. Many essential workers survived a COVID-19 infection and don’t require a vaccine. A recent large population study from Israel put the chances of symptomatic reinfection from COVID-19 in a recovered patient at 0.3%. There was no statistical difference between those who did and did not receive one dose of the Pfizer vaccine. The Cleveland Clinic study had similar outcomes studying recovered healthcare workers.
In fact, in a recent interview on “American Thought Leaders,” Harvard epidemiologist Dr. Martin Kulldorff said, “Hospitals should hire nurses & other staff with natural immunity. They are the ones who are least likely to infect the residents. Yet, we’re doing the opposite. They’re being fired.” Call me crazy, but I put higher stock in Dr. Kulldorff’s assessment than Rivera’s. According to the CDC’s estimate of disease burden, nearly 200 million Americans fall into the recovered category.
Finally, for those at low risk from COVID-19, the vaccines may pose a greater risk. In males under 40, the risk of myocarditis from the vaccine is higher than the risk in this population from COVID-19. In the vaccine advisory committee meeting to evaluate booster shots, Dr. Dorian Fink from the FDA shared that healthcare claims data showed the risk of heart-related complications was approximately 1:5,000.
A new data signal from the UK also needs to be evaluated further. When researchers assess recovered patients’ antibodies, they discovered that different sets of antibodies to combat the spike protein (S antibodies) and to combat the nucleocapsid (N antibodies) in the vast majority of patients. Emory University referred to this combination as “wide-ranging resistance” in fighting the current and future variants of COVID-19. However, when a vaccinated individual suffers from a breakthrough infection, UK data shows that the vast majority of the time, they only form S antibodies as the spike protein in the vaccines trains them to do.
The vaccine-trained immune response could reduce responses to nucleocapsid antigens of the SARS-CoV-2 virus when a vaccinated person experiences a breakthrough infection. As the spike protein evolves, this could result in the virus’s ability to evade the antibodies the current vaccines produce. Some vaccinated people may never form N antibodies, reducing their ability to fight the virus.
Researchers need to evaluate this signal in extensive population studies where many recovered patients have not received the vaccine. The disregard for natural immunity by U.S. officials may mean that researchers must evaluate overseas data. If the signal detected in the UK is confirmed, it will change the risk-benefit calculation for low-risk Americans and children.
Personally, I have no tolerance for Rivera’s simplistic thinking. He does not base his insistence on vaccine compliance on science or data. More importantly, it does not account for the big question marks that remain. There is some portion of the American population that should not get vaccinated for medical and risk-related reasons. As we continue to realize what these reasons may be, no one can be unvaccinated.
WATCH the entire segment from The Five below: