Without scientific basis: The persecution of the unvaccinated – Opinion

by Prof. Rivka Carmi, Prof. Asa Kasher, Dr. Yoav Yehezkeli, Dr. Aviv Segev

The findings of the American Centers for Disease Control point to the fact that the COVID-19 vaccine protects only the vaccinated person but has no value in protecting others. What is it then that is being demanded of the unvaccinated?

In recent days, we have witnessed a well-orchestrated public campaign calling for tough action against those who have not been vaccinated. Proposals include closing law-abiding citizens in their homes, denying children education, and even punishing them financially. The logic, ostensibly, behind these calls is the risk posed by the unvaccinated. These calls have intensified in light of the prime minister’s speech in which he claimed that “the unvaccinated endanger us all,” and now even likened them to a “submachine gun”, expressions that fuel the public attack on the million people who have not been vaccinated.

Are these things actually true?

What is the scientific basis for this determination, and is there any justification for making such a declaration?
  1. The vaccine has been shown to not prevent infection and transmission. Studies, as well as official documents from the American Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), show that the viral load (which is a major component in the ability to infect) is similar in both vaccinated and non-vaccinated people and that the chance of infection is similar between these groups.
  2. Asymptomatic carriers rarely infect others. Studies show that the infection rate of asymptomatic patients is 20 times lower than that of symptomatic patients. This means that a healthy, asymptomatic person who carries the virus has a less than 1% chance of infecting someone else. Given the percentage of verified infected people in the population, the chance of contracting the virus from a random encounter (as opposed to household members) is about 1 in 50,000.
  3. Vaccinating the remaining population will not prevent the wave of infection. Because the vaccine does not prevent infection and transmission, it does not contribute to herd immunity. Simply put, Pfizer’s attempt to create herd immunity through the vaccine has failed. The addition of more vaccinated people will not prevent a fourth wave, which, like past waves, will pass by itself. Data from Iceland and Malta, where the rate of vaccination in the entire population is over 80%, show that waves of infection still occur there. However, mortality there is very low, probably due to the vaccine’s effectiveness in preventing serious illness.
  4. The vaccine continues to protect vaccinated people from serious illness. While mild illness can still be had, the primary concern is preventing serious illness. The vaccine is still very effective for personal protection against a serious illness, according to publications in Israel and around the world, even if it does not have good protection against infection or transmission. Thus, the vaccine has little value in protecting others, but is effective in protecting the vaccinated.
  5. The number of over a million unvaccinated is exaggerated. Contrary to the statement that there are 1.1 million unvaccinated people in Israel, the real number is significantly lower. Within the million, there are many who cannot or should not be vaccinated: part of this population include people who have already been infected (whose proportion in the population is higher than known, according to serological surveys), and therefore have no need for vaccination. On the contrary – those who have recovered have better protection, including environmental protection that promotes herd immunity. There are also patients who cannot get the vaccine due to medical reasons. Another segment of the 1.1 million are ages 12 – 18, while in developed countries like Germany and the United Kingdom, they have decided not to vaccinate at this stage, young people under 18.

The calls to blame the unvaccinated, which sometimes amounts to incitement and encouragement of real violence, may be the result of people’s frustration, and the government’s attempt to find a scapegoat for a natural phenomenon. In the 21st century, one would hope that the ugly phenomena that accompanied epidemics in the Middle Ages, such as blaming others, including the Jews for spreading disease, could be avoided. In a democracy where human dignity and rights are precious, there is no room for such calls and incitement. The society’s right to protection prevails over the individual’s right to liberty only when there is a real danger (as is the case with violent psychotic patients). There is no restriction on a person’s liberty due to a remote potential danger (such as an AIDS patient, or a person who has returned from a country who may be infected with some illness, or to use a contrasting example – a released prisoner at risk of reoffending).

Restriction of individual rights based on a potential threat leads to a regime of darkness and evil. Incitement must be stopped immediately, because beyond lacking any scientific basis, it is disgraceful, immoral and an opening of a very sinister and slippery slope. A person’s right to his body is a sacred value in medicine, and the denial of that right empties this basic right of any real meaning. Patient autonomy is not only an ethical matter, but is also enshrined in the Patient Rights Act, and is derived from the Human Dignity and Liberty Act. One shall not put any pressure on a person to receive treatment, beyond providing explanations and access to information – be it chemotherapy, antibiotics – or vaccination.

We call for continued efforts to persuade and make information accessible to the elderly population who have not yet been vaccinated with the first two doses, using the appropriate tools in medicine of transparency, and respect for the patient and his beliefs. However, especially in light of the questions surrounding the vaccination of children and the decisions of other countries not to vaccinate them, all means of pressure and sanctions against children and youth should be stopped immediately.

We call on the Prime Minister and the Minister of Health to immediately announce an end to the scapegoating and to provide scientific explanations to the public that demonstrate that the hundreds of thousands of people who have not been vaccinated are no more the source of our troubles than are any other minority who have been persecuted in the darkest periods of our history.

Signed by:

Prof. Rivka Carmi, expert in pediatrics, neonatology and medical genetics. She served as Dean of the Faculty of Medical Sciences and President of Ben-Gurion University, Chairman of the Dean of Medical Schools Association and Chairman of the Board of Universities.

Prof. Asa Kasher, philosopher, expert in professional ethics, winner of the Israel Prize and author of the IDF Code of Ethics.

Dr. Yoav Yehezkeli, expert in internal medicine and a medical director, a lecturer in the Crisis and Disaster Management Program at Tel Aviv University, and one of the founders of the epidemic treatment team.

Dr. Aviv Segev, psychiatrist, director of the Department of Emergency Psychiatry at the Center for Mental Health and a lecturer in the Department of Psychiatry at Tel Aviv University.

The authors are members and activists of the Public Emergency Council for the COVID-19 Crisis. pecc.org.il

This article was first published in Hebrew on Channel 12.


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