COVID Booster Mandates for Young Adults Will Cause ‘Net Harm,’ BMJ Study Says

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Any potential benefits of the COVID-19 booster fail to outweigh the harms for young people ages 18-29, according to a peer-reviewed study published Monday in The BMJ Journal of Medical Ethics.

Researchers performed a risk-benefit assessment and ethical analysis using data from Pfizer, Moderna and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). They concluded that “booster mandates in young adults are expected to cause a net harm.”

More than 1,000 U.S. universities and colleges mandate the COVID-19 vaccine for residential students and more than 300 mandate the booster. Students who do not comply risk disenrollment.

The authors of the BMJ study concluded universities should not enforce booster vaccine mandates.

The researchers estimated that over a six-month period, 31,207 to 42,836 young adults ages 18-29, previously uninfected with COVID-19, would have to receive a third mRNA vaccine — a booster — in order to prevent a single hospitalization.

They also anticipated there would be at least 18.5 serious adverse events among the boosted group during that time, including in males, 1.5-4.6 booster-associated cases of myopericarditis, typically requiring hospitalization.

For 32 hospitalizations prevented, there would be 593.5 serious adverse events.

The researchers also anticipated that for every hospitalization averted there would be 1,430 to 4,626 cases of adverse events serious enough to stop people from carrying out regular daily activities.

Any vaccine mandate must be based on the public health principle of “proportionality” — the benefits must outweigh the relevant risks — the authors said. Until now, no risk-benefit assessment had been done.

In April, Dr. Paul Offit, a member of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) vaccine advisory board, writing in the New England Journal of Medicine called on the CDC to conduct a risk-benefit analysis of vaccines for young people.

The CDC has not yet carried out such a study. In response, lead author Kevin Bardosh, Ph.D., explained on Twitter that their team of bioethicists, epidemiologists, legal scholars and clinicians “took up the challenge.”

Building on their empirical risk-benefit assessment, the authors argued mandates are “unethical” because they may result in a net expected harm to young people.

They added that the mandates aren’t based on updated, age-stratified risk-benefit assessment and that expected harms don’t outweigh the public health benefits “given the modest and transient effectiveness of vaccines against transmission.”

The mandates also violate the reciprocity principle, the authors said, because vaccine harms are not reliably compensated and vaccines may result in wider social harms, including social ostracization of unvaccinated people and loss of faith in public institutions.

The authors of The BMJ study concluded that:

“General mandates for young people ignore key data, entail wider social harms and/or abuses of power and are arguably undermining rather than contributing to social trust and solidarity.”

‘Mandates have caused backlash, resistance & anger’

Controversy surrounds vaccine mandates at colleges and universities, particularly for the boosters, with some arguing the mandates are based on politics, not medicine.

Last year an FDA advisory committee voted overwhelmingly against boosting the general population, including healthy young adults, but the Biden administration and the CDC overruled this recommendation.

“There’s actually a controversy, a fundamental controversy among experts in the world of vaccinology, about the appropriateness of boosters in younger people,” Bardosh told The National Desk.

“Most people have had COVID and that provides very durable protection that’s on par with two vaccines or even three vaccines if you haven’t actually had the virus,” he added.

In February, the CDC estimated that 63.7% of adults ages 18-49, both vaccinated and unvaccinated, had infection-induced SARS-CoV-2 antibodies.

This, combined with increasing evidence of serious adverse effects for young people from the vaccine, which CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky and Pfizer both acknowledged does not stop transmission, led many to question the mandates.

Bardosh tweeted:

Calls to end the mandates have grown. The study reported that more than 50 petitions were filed against the mandates, with substantial support. Petitions on call out institutions including Stanford, George Mason, UMass, University of Scranton, University of Notre Dame, University at Buffalo, SUNY Stony Brook, Siena College, Manhattanville College, Le Moyne College, Merrimack College, DePauw University, Virginia State University, Salve Regina University, Montclair State University, and California State University.

Some university professors have filed open letters to their institutions, including a letter from University of California administrators in late November demanding an end to the booster mandate.

Last week, Yale alumni, Rhodes Scholar and journalist Dr. Naomi Wolf spoke at a rally against Yale’s vaccine mandates. “Putting Yale on notice,” she said if Yale continues to mandate the COVID-19 boosters, it will:

“have blood on its hand for damaging young healthy women and men. mRNA Covid Vaccines do not stop transmission but do cause multiple irreversible harms, so they do not make any sense to mandate.

“Yale, DO NOT coerce minors and young adults into damaging their lives and submitting to an illegal dangerous, injection that violates the Geneva Convention, that violates the Nuremberg Code, that violates basic human rights …

“Coercion is not consent!”

This week Ohio Republican State Rep. Scott Lipps introduced a bill that would ban COVID-19 vaccine mandates at Ohio colleges and universities. Lipps told the House Higher Education and Career Readiness Committee:

“By requiring vaccines and discriminating against individuals who choose not to receive one, we are not only making very intimate health decisions for our students, but we are showing them that their education, choice, and autonomy are less meaningful and not of their own control.”

On Thursday, the U.S. House of Representatives passed legislation that included rescinding the COVID-19 vaccine mandate for the military. The Senate still has to pass the bill. President Biden, who said he opposed eliminating the mandate, has not said he will veto it.

Despite evolving data about young people’s low risk for severe COVID-19 and high risk of mRNA vaccine adverse effects, the CDC recently launched a new grant, offering $1.5 million in research funds for colleges to study how to increase COVID-19 vaccination uptake among students.

They posted the funding opportunity in November and will accept grant applications until Jan. 13, 2023.


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