SADOW: Vaccine Passports Are Terrible Policy, Period

Louisiana is hurtling towards an unwise, counterproductive, and constitutionally-suspect “zero covid” policy, and it must be halted before wasting more resources and real harm to people is done.

In recent days, Democrat New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell declared that adults in the city would have to carry “vaccine passports” in order to engage in many forms of commerce, enforced by merchants and government. That means proof of Wuhan coronavirus vaccination or a recent negative test. The Louisiana State University System is signaling that if and when any full authorization for vaccines come to fruition, it will expect the same of students and employees.

But steps like these ignore reality to the detriment of the state’s people and visitors. Unfortunately, while Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards vetoed a bill in the past legislative session that would have prevented this, policy-makers should reject such things anyway.

The entire idea to vaccinate your way to permanent safety makes no sense. Vaccination helps only those who have had it, in vastly reducing the chances of the recipient of severe reaction to the virus. But it makes no difference when it comes to contracting and spreading it; whether vaccinated, an infected person still sheds the same amount of virus into the environment. In other words, vaccination provides no additional protection to other people, and any promoting the argument that vaccination keeps others “safe” is bogus.

Yet that argument is the line Cantrell and others have run, and it is nonsense. It especially is understood as such when considering that the current virus situation is ending its pandemic stage and is transitioning into its endemic phase.

The scientific fact is what’s known as SARS-CoV-2 is behaving just like the other four established coronaviruses, with an infection or vaccination conferring only transient immunity, leaving the potential for reinfection. As such, like these others, eradication isn’t possible (thank the Chinese communist government for this new scourge) and, just like these other coronaviruses, the world must learn to live with it.

For awhile, it will pose greater problems that the others. With the other four, people catch them early in life and build antibodies that make each successive infection less capable of virulence, until their immune systems begin to weaken with age or other condition. Since this one burst on the scene with no one having natural immunity and a significant number of people with weak immune systems otherwise, it took a great toll.

Yet as the years pass it will become like the others – mostly an inconvenience, but it will kill a very small portion those it infects, which currently has about the same infection fatality rate as seasonal influenza, on average. Like the seasonal flu, it may be wise to promote annual vaccination for those most vulnerable to it. Ultimately, all it does is add one to the existing million ways a human being can die.

These facts make the vaccine passport idea useless. While for now the vast majority of recent serious infections come from the unvaccinated, as vaccination rates and infections rise soon these cases will feature almost exclusively the vaccinated and previously infected, at lower levels. Why implement discrimination for no good reason, as those who choose not get vaccinated can get it as easily from the vaccinated as unvaccinated, and only the unvaccinated suffer by their decision not to get it?

This consideration also destroys the argument about vaccination reducing the strain on medical resources. Since the virus can’t be wiped out, the only policy question is how to space out serious sickness so as not to overwhelm these resources, and passports represent too intrusive a government response discriminatorily applied to individuals solely on the basis of where they live or work or go to school with no community benefit tied directly to their respective choices.

A vaccine passport proposes policy for a world we might want to believe exists, but doesn’t. It only discriminates needlessly, divides societies uselessly, and emboldens illiberal attitudes among and actions by people and governments. It has no place in an enlightened Louisiana.

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