Each of these cut corners has since created policy controversies and uncertainty that better trials would have avoided. Because of the pressure to produce a vaccine within 130 days, President Biden’s pandemic plan will likely force randomized trials on future vaccines to cut the same corners. This policy effectively guarantees that lockdowns will return to the U.S. in the event of a new pandemic.
Since the Spring of 2020, economists have had a strong incentive to censor themselves about the costs of covid measures for fear of being seen as out of step with the hastily achieved consensus that covid measures came without any significant costs to the public. Economists dismissed any dissent from the lockdown consensus. On Twitter and elsewhere, those few who dared dissent were labelled cranks or grandma killers.
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.
Unfortunately, sitting atop the world’s largest stash of infectious disease research money, with an annual NIAID budget of over $6 billion, Dr. Fauci was able to command the nation’s pandemic strategy with little opposition from other infectious disease scientists.
Americans have sacrificed enough of their human rights and of their livelihoods for two years in the service of protecting the general public health. Omicron is circulating but it is not an emergency. The emergency is over. The current emergency declaration must be canceled. It is time.
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.