The rush to restrict freedom
| October 9, 2021 12:00 AM
It is sad to see politicization of an infectious disease and the rush to restrict freedom based on the false premise of communal benefit.
Contrary to repetitive assurances that all science supports mask use, it does not and has not despite decades of study in viral illnesses. The Yale/Stanford study cited in a recent letter to the Inter Lake was conducted in Bangladesh, an environment and population disparate from Montana, and was confounded by social distancing. Touted as the first study to demonstrate a benefit from community masking, its conclusion is objectively flawed.
Social distancing decreases your risk of exposure. If you want to wear a mask to remind yourself and others to social distance from you, feel free to do so. Or paint your face blue. The effect will be the same.
Vaccines clearly decrease death and hospitalization for those exposed to Covid and are highly recommended. The only people the unvaccinated are potentially hurting, however, are themselves. That is no justification for a restriction of freedom and adoption of mandates else we would outlaw French fries and fast cars, two of my favorites.
Regarding the lack of communal benefit, the unvaccinated pose no risk to the vaccinated. Unlike measles or polio, mandatory vaccination will not eliminate Covid nor protect you from acquiring or transmitting it. The theoretical benefit to unvaccinated children by mandating vaccination of all adults is at most one less death per million population, less than the risk of the vaccine. Surges will come and go and the millions of dollars given to hospitals to deal with the pandemic and make wise personnel decisions are proving adequate in almost all circumstances.
Regarding personal choice, the vaccine exposes the previously infected to all of its side effects with no benefit. And the vaccines do indeed have side effects and these are underreported. It is not yet clearly safe during pregnancy. Religious freedom demands no mandates as no vaccine available in the U.S. is untainted in research, testing, or production from aborted fetal stem cells.
All freedoms carry risks and potential regrets. However, the skepticism and critical thinking inherent to individual choice by a free people is the best assurance of honesty and truth both in science and sociopolitically. It is also the best safeguard against collectivist tyranny. The bar to restrict it is high and has not been met.
Dr. Michael Boharski is a gastroenterologist in Kalispell.