Politicians argued that the draconian lockdowns were needed to protect lives. From the excess-mortality data, we now know they were not. Instead, they have contributed to the enormous collateral damage that we will have to live with for many years to come. It is tragic.
The federal government went further, using its vast regulatory powers to mandate vaccines as a condition of employment. These coercive actions effectively cast the unvaccinated into second-class citizenship. As they watched the vaccinated and unvaccinated alike contract COVID-19, they undoubtedly began to wonder whether public health truly had their best interests at heart.
When we wrote the Declaration, we knew that we were putting our professional careers at risk, as well as our ability to provide for our families. That was a conscious decision on our part, and we fully sympathize with people who instead decided to focus on maintaining their important research laboratories and activities.
Whenever applied, the precautionary principle needs to be challenged and stand scrutiny, to help us make decisions when there is uncertainty, and the situation is in flux as is typical in a pandemic. These alternatives emphasize seeking new facts, being rigorously honest about the evidence, being open to being wrong, adjusting our actions as we come to understand more, and communicating with trust, not fear.
The first step should be to correct errors, a minimal obligation of all ethical journalism. A second step requires more balanced reporting about the pandemic by, for example, honestly reporting about the success of the pandemic strategies employed by Florida and the Scandinavian countries. The alternative is a continuing erosion of trust in medicine and public health.
It is an odd reality about vaccine mandates that they aim to increase vaccination among working-age adults and even children, including those with natural immunity, rather than the high-risk elderly. The well of public trust in public health is finite, and to waste it on a policy that seeks to increase vaccination rates in a lower risk population makes little sense.