Brownstone » Brownstone Journal » The Tennessee Battle Over Vaccine Lysenkoism
The Tennessee Battle Over Vaccine Lysenkoism - Brownstone Institute

The Tennessee Battle Over Vaccine Lysenkoism


[This article was co-authored with John Drummond.]

Trofim Lysenko believed that acquired traits were inherited, claimed that heredity can be changed by “educating” plants, and denied the existence of genes. Lysenko was supported and empowered by Stalin, and Soviet Communist Party elites. As noted wryly in a 1948 essay in The Philadelphia Inquirer,

Professor T.D. Lysenko, vice chairman of The Academy of Sciences of the Soviet Union, and holder of the Order of Lenin, is far ahead of any scientist in the field of genetics. He is, in fact, the only scientist who ever grew wax tomatoes from an ordinary vine.

All levity aside, the essay continued,

But Dr. Lysenko is no joke to Soviet scientists. One leading Russian scientist who happened to dispute his views, Professor Nikolai Vavilov, died in a concentration camp…under circumstances that were never explained. Obviously other scientists unwilling to share the fate of Vavilov agree with Lysenko.

Drs. Anthony Fauci of the National Institutes of Health, and Rochelle Walensky of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) believed that Covid mRNA vaccination was sterilizing (i.e., prevented SARS-CoV-2 infection and transmission), and claimed that the Covid pandemic could be “ended” by mass vaccination, including of children. They also minimized, if not outright denied, both naturally acquired immunity to SARS-CoV-2, and serious adverse reactions to Covid-19 mRNA vaccination, especially myopericarditis in healthy adolescents, to young adult men. 

These Covid commissars, in conjunction with Biden Administration Covid zealots, were “no joke” to any scientific or lay critics of their Covid Lysenkoist dogma. They engaged in censorship, and promoted character, albeit not physical assassination of such “heretics,” while advocating draconian vaccine mandates, and the resultant firing of those who refused to get vaccinated.  

Our recent Tennessee Third Circuit Court victory (bench ruling audio; bench ruling transcript; proposed agreed order) provides overdue legal validation of evidence-based medical decision-making about Covid-19 mRNA vaccination in healthy children, and may help reverse this persistent Lysenkoist trend.

The subject case is representative of thousands more, pending and completed across the nation. Father alleged that a material change of circumstances (unspecified in the petition) had emerged since the divorce, affecting the best interest of the children, thus requiring judicial intervention. He alleged that Mother persistently refused to allow the children to be vaccinated for Covid-19, in spite of so many deaths across the country. 

His proof at trial consisted largely of his own repeated attempts to persuade Mother, his disagreements over masking and ivermectin, and Mother’s testimony: that she saw no significant threat from the virus, no proven benefit from the vaccines, and significant risk from the proven adverse effects. All of which was presented as patently unreasonable and irrational, in light of recommendations by the CDC, the AAP, the AMA, and FDA authorizations and approval of vaccines, and the sworn testimony of Father’s expert, a pediatric cardiologist who testified in late November of 2023 that, among other things, the vaccines available then would probably help kids with long Covid and reduce hospitalizations. He also admitted, upon further questioning by the Court, that the vaccines had been causally associated with cardiac damage (i.e., myocarditis and pericarditis) to young hearts, and that it had even been fatal to some.  

Mother presented expert testimony from a Tennessee internist, Dr. Denise Sibley (qualified in the management of patients with Covid illness), and Dr. Andrew Bostom (qualified as an epidemiologist and clinical trialist). Dr. Bostom has testified frequently, always pro bono, in cases small and large across the country, contributing to an amicus brief in watershed litigation overturning OSHA mandates, and in his state legislature, against mask mandates, vaccine mandates, and against court-ordered vaccination of children, in contexts similar to the case discussed in this essay.

While remaining unvaccinated, each of the two healthy, adolescent boys had been infected twice by SARS-CoV-2, experiencing only mild, brief, self-limited disease. Evidence-based medicine—in particular, the epidemiology of Covid risk, the enduring robustness of naturally acquired immunity to SARS-CoV-2, and Covid mRNA vaccine randomized, controlled trial data—was central to our arguments against their Covid vaccination. Indeed, with the judge’s attentive cooperation, punctuated by his queries, we painstakingly walked him through a didactic slide presentation elucidating these crucial issues, as reviewed, below.  

We showed that the SARS-CoV-2 infection fatality rate (Covid-19 deaths/total infected) in children was mercifully low, even when the more virulent early strains were predominant, on the order of ~1/335,000 (0.0003%), globally, for those ≤ 19 years old. UK data evaluating the later Omicron variant period described a rate of 1/1,000,000 among 5- to 11-year-olds, while in children of all age groups, deaths were largely confined to those “with severe comorbidities, especially neurodisabilities.”

We also discussed Rhode Island (RI) data providing local US validation of these trends: there were zero primary pediatric Covid-19 deaths in RI during 3 years of the pandemic, despite the CDC’s own estimate that as of December, 2022, all RI children up to age 17 had been infected with SARS-CoV-2. Overall North American hospitalization rates, certainly for primary Covid-19 hospitalizations, and in particular those with severe illness, were always extremely low in children, since the advent of the pandemic. The Swedish primary school (and general pediatric) counterexample was also invoked. We noted that even during the most virulent spring, 2020 Covid-19 “first wave,” when Swedish primary schools remained open, with in-class education, and no masks, only 15 children (out of 1,951,905) were hospitalized due to Covid-19, four of whom had serious, chronic comorbidities. There were zero childhood Covid-19 deaths in Sweden during that same period.

It is now established that the predominantly mild, self-limited SARS-CoV-2 infections most experience confer a natural immunity to the virus which is more robust, and enduring vis-à-vis any resulting from Covid-19 mRNA vaccination. We proffered key evidence in support of that contention including a North Carolina study of ~890,000 children aged 5- to 11-years-old monitored during a period of SARS-CoV-2 omicron variant predominance (published in the New England Journal of Medicine). These data revealed the clear superiority of natural immunity in preventing Covid-19 hospitalizations.

At 10-months of followup, prior infection/naturally acquired SARS-CoV-2 immunity conferred 86.9% protection against hospitalization which exceeded the 5-month protection (76.1%) afforded by vaccination, with the gap widening each successive month (i.e., months 1-5) where direct comparisons were available. We also referred to a subsequent Lancet “meta-analysis” (pooling results from 12 studies) of adult populations confirming and extending these findings which demonstrated that prior infection afforded stronger, longer-lasting immunity against “severe disease,” defined as Covid hospitalization, or death.

Subgroup data we adduced from Pfizer’s randomized, controlled trial (RCT) of Covid-19 mRNA vaccination in 5- to 11-year-olds showed that among those children with prior SARS-CoV-2 infection, none even developed mild Covid-19 infections in the active vaccine, or placebo vaccine groups. Irrespective of prior infection, no child in either the placebo or actively vaccinated groups of this Pfizer RCT was hospitalized due to Covid-19. These trial findings affirmed the very mild nature of Covid-19 in children, and highlighted the complete absence of any RCT data—the highest standard of evidence (acknowledged in pediatric medicine as well)—demonstrating Covid-19 vaccination of children “prevents” such rare Covid-19 hospitalizations.

Given hectoring admonitions to parents, invoking polio vaccination—notably by Dr. Fauci—to vaccinate their children against Covid-19, we further juxtaposed the 1954 polio RCT (and field trial), and Pfizer’s Covid-19 mRNA vaccine RCT in 5- to 11-year-olds, resulting in that vaccine’s Emergency Use Authorization. Dr. Fauci’s specious comparison, notwithstanding, the contrasts were stark, and resoundingly unfavorable toward pediatric Covid-19 vaccination. 

US polio mortality in children, 1915 to 1954, averaged 5.7%, while the US pediatric Covid-19 IFR was 0.0003%, or less. In RI, during the first 10 months of 1953 (through 10/31/1953), there were 289 polio cases, and 15 polio deaths, a 5.2% mortality. Despite thousands of RI pediatric “Covid-19 cases,” and by CDC estimate, 100% of the RI pediatric population infected, there were zero pediatric Covid-19 deaths during 3 years in RI. The 1954 polio RCT (and field trial) enrolled 1.8 million children, and polio vaccination prevented 374 cases of crippling polio (vs. placebo). The 2021 Pfizer mRNA RCT in 5- to 11-year-olds enrolled ~2300 children, and Covid-19 mRNA vaccination “prevented” 13 near-term cases of mild Covid-19 (i.e., sniffles). As noted previously, there were zero Covid-19 hospitalizations in either the placebo or active Covid-19 vaccine groups. 

Two peer-reviewed assessments of Covid-19 vaccination risk/benefit we referenced, examining RCT data in low (i.e., confined to 18- to 29-year-olds) to moderate risk (i.e., all Pfizer and Moderna trial participants), each demonstrated the risk of vaccine-associated serious adverse events (SAEs) outweighed any potential vaccine-associated reduction in Covid-19 hospitalizations. Most germane to the case, we summarized a pre-print review and meta-analysis of all extant childhood Covid-19 vaccination RCTs overseen by veteran, renowned vaccine epidemiologist, and clinical trialist, Dr. Christine Stabell-Benn, published online 12/7/23. These analyses found Covid-19 mRNA vaccination was associated with a 3.5-fold greater risk of SAEs in older children, and among children under 5, a 3-fold increased risk of lower respiratory tract infections (of any cause), and a 2-fold increased risk of respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), specifically. The author’s pellucid, sobering conclusion stated,

Given the low risk of severe Covid-19 infections in children, the RCTs call for a renewed assessment of the value of Covid-19 vaccination of children and adolescents.

Our presentation to the court concluded with discussions of chimerical “long Covid” following mild Covid illness in children, and the very real, if rare phenomenon of Covid mRNA vaccine-induced myopericarditis, especially among healthy adolescent, and young adult males. Neither “long Covid,” or the equivalent “post-Covid condition” in children and adolescents infected with the more virulent early strains of SARS-CoV-2 were shown to occur with greater frequency in controlled studies of SARS-CoV-2 “positive,” vs. SARS-CoV-2 “negative” individuals.

Both conditions, however, were deemed likely caused by psychosomatic factors, perhaps due, in part, to the aggressive pandemic response measures. Using the CDC’s Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) data for Tennessee—well-validated for capturing Covid-19 vaccine associated myopericarditis events by CDC—we demonstrated that in under 3 years, there had been 7 reported cases of Covid-19 vaccine myopericarditis in 6- to 17-year-old Tennessee males, 5 of whom required hospitalization. As a “control,” we showed that during 10 years of Tennessee VAERS surveillance for influenza vaccination, no cases of myopericarditis were reported among 6- to 17-year-old Tennessee males. Finally it must be noted that long-term followup of these Covid-19 mRNA vaccine myopericarditis cases will not be available for years to come, and at least two acute, autopsy-proven fatalities in teenage US males have been published

The case was concluded on February 6, 2024. After thoughtful assessment of the parents’ different concerns, and having started the case with some suggestions to counsel that the CDC’s recommendations would be considered authoritative, the judge ruled that after having heard all the evidence, including especially all of the experts, Mother’s refusal to consent to the children’s vaccination for Covid was not unreasonable, under the circumstances the parents faced. Even more remarkable, for parents who may follow in subsequent litigation over their parenting plans, the Court found that no material change of circumstances had occurred to justify judicial intervention.

Since the case will almost certainly not be appealed, it will have no appellate authority for purposes of citation or precedent. However, it is a beginning, as it represents a commendable change of attitude in one judge, a very prominent and influential judge, in a predominantly Democrat city, who oversees almost all divorce and post-divorce, cases in Nashville, Tennessee. This is a modest, but truly auspicious breakthrough. 

Evolutionary biologist Sir Julian Huxley interacted with Trofim Lysenko in an open-minded fashion during 1945. To his dismay, Huxley concluded from this experience that Lysenko, and Lysenko’s adepts, practiced, “less a branch of science comprising of facts, than a branch of ideology, a doctrine upon which it is sought to impose facts. More broadly, and ominously, Huxley warned that the Lysenkoists’ repudiation of the validity of science and the scientific method” was “a denial of that freedom of the human intellect which we fondly imagined had been laboriously won during the past three or four centuries.  

We hope our lower court victory in Tennessee contributes to restoring the primacy of true evidence-based medical decision-making about childhood Covid mRNA vaccination. It is our fervent wish that the ruling also helps galvanize opposition to childhood Covid mRNA vaccine Lysenkoism, within Tennessee, and across the US. 

Published under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
For reprints, please set the canonical link back to the original Brownstone Institute Article and Author.


  • Andrew Bostom

    Andrew Bostom, M.D. MS, is an academic clinical trialist and epidemiologist, who is currently a Research Physician at the Brown University Center For Primary Care and Prevention of Kent-Memorial Hospital in Rhode Island.

    View all posts

Donate Today

Your financial backing of Brownstone Institute goes to support writers, lawyers, scientists, economists, and other people of courage who have been professionally purged and displaced during the upheaval of our times. You can help get the truth out through their ongoing work.

Subscribe to Brownstone for More News

Stay Informed with Brownstone Institute