Never before have policies been enacted which obligate the population to take a risk. Historically, public policy (like criminal laws) forbid actions which cause harm to others. There are policies that obligate action, such as wearing a seat belt. However, such actions apply only when enjoying a privilege. Further, seat belts protect the wearer and only the wearer with no known risks.
The NSCLA has grave concerns about the precedent being set by the COVID-19 mitigation policy of vaccine mandates, including proof of vaccination. The NSCLA asserts a requirement of irrefutable and voluminous evidence of material harm before mandating people take a risk for the protection of others.
Vaccine Mandates and Proof of Vaccination
Employment mandates and retaining the freedom to enjoy “non-essential” activities were made contingent on people being injected with a substance that has been labeled a “vaccine”, yet the substance does not perform in accordance with the historical definition of vaccine. This is not a small or irrelevant detail.
Vaccines are intended to prevent you from becoming infected and transmitting a virus to others while having an overwhelmingly positive safety profile. COVID-19 vaccines do not prevent infection or transmission, and their safety profile is objectively sub-par compared to the other common vaccines used around the world. In spite of the mountains of data on the subject, these vaccines have been constantly presented as “safe” and “effective”, even to this day. For example, Moderna was touted as safe and effective for all age groups for which it was approved. Millions took this vaccine and many, especially young males, were seriously harmed as a result of taking a product they were promised was safe. As a result, Health Canada recently issued a strong recommendation that people under 30 should not receive this vaccine due to the risk of injury such as myocarditis. The safe and effective claims are nothing more than subjective sloganeering which is invalidated by readily available scientific evidence.
The Pfizer trials, for example, only tested the notion of a reduction in symptomatic COVID-19. The trials did not test whether the vaccine reduced hospitalizations or deaths, nor did they measure anything about transmissibility. The 95% efficacy claim is also something that is grossly misunderstood and widely touted without context. The 95% claim is a result from the trials which measured the level of symptomatic COVID-19 in the placebo group (<0.9% of this group had a symptomatic infection) to the control (vaccinated) group (95% lower rate of symptomatic infection than the placebo group). In layman’s terms, the vaccine reduces your chances of a symptomatic infection from under 1% to further under 1%. Perhaps worst of all, is the plain fact that whatever protection these vaccines do offer wanes swiftly (and this was before Omicron, which is now exacerbating the issue), leading to the apparent necessity of boosters, possibly every 3-6 months to continuously offer a baseline level of protection. Yet with every dose comes risk. In Nova Scotia alone, the official data (which was quietly released recently) confirms that, based on the number of serious adverse events per dose of vaccine given, someone who takes 3 doses has a 1:4800 risk (as in, 1 in every 4800 people who takes 3 doses of COVID-19 vaccine) of a serious adverse event, defined as requiring hospitalization, permanent disability or death. As of November 30, 2021, there have been 634 adverse events following COVID-19 vaccination in Nova Scotia. This includes 10 deaths (with no other cause attributed), 102 serious injuries (101 which required hospitalization and the other causing permanent disability). Myocarditis/pericarditis is the most common serious injury from the vaccines and this injury was reported most frequently in young people under 30 years of age. The NSCLA calls upon the Province of Nova Scotia to be as forthright and prompt in reporting and discussing vaccine injuries as they are in touting the benefits. This is the basis of informed consent.
The NSCLA is realistic and reasonable in its expectations. We do not expect vaccines to be 100% safe or effective. However, based on the clear scientific evidence, the current vaccines are simply not safe or effective to the degree required to be morally and ethically reasonable as justification for employment mandates or requirements for people to travel and participate in leisure activities.
The risk-benefit analysis of a vaccine is fundamentally different from that for drugs which treat disease. The reason is that vaccines are given to people who do not have the disease and may never encounter the disease. If a person has a disease, they are at some risk of illness and death and the level of risk varies by disease. For example, at one extreme, if a person has late stage cancer with a poor prognosis, they are more likely to accept a drug known to have serious side-effects. If they want the potential of benefit, they must be willing to accept the known risk. The potential benefits of the drug are weighed against the known side effects and dangers of the drug versus the risk of a severe outcome of the disease should it be left untreated. If one is progressing toward death, their tolerance for risk would typically increase. At the other extreme, COVID-19 has a low to statistically near zero potential for hospitalization and death for most demographics, namely those under 65 years of age without serious co-morbidities. In the United States, 75% of COVID-19 related deaths are older than 65 and barely 1% are under 35 years old. The potential for death (case fatality rate) of individuals aged 65 and above is 125 times higher than someone under 40, and that doesn’t even account for co-morbidities or more nuanced age groups.
Vaccine mandates and passports could only be theoretically justified if the benefits significantly outweighed the risks. A proper analysis considers three risk factors.
First, there must be a significant risk which there is no other way to mitigate. COVID-19 certainly is a significant risk to certain demographics, however, to suggest an average asymptomatic person in a workplace is a significant risk based on their vaccination status is not based in science or reality. Barely 1% of the NS population has tested positive for COVID-19 in nearly 2 years and the cumulative positive test rate since March 2020 is under 0.8%. The risk of an asymptomatic person having COVID-19 at any given time, and being able to transmit it to someone else is exceedingly close to zero. You could push this risk even closer to zero by offering rapid testing, though this seems unnecessary given the absolute risk is already very low.
Second, there needs to be crystal clear evidence that the vaccines significantly reduce the chances of transmission, as this is the only justification for mandates. If vaccinated individuals can also transmit the virus, why would you allow them into a workplace or restaurant while not allowing someone who is unvaccinated, when the reason behind the mandate is to remove people who are at risk of transmitting the virus? Of course it makes no sense at all, and is certainly not a reasonable limitation of fundamental rights given there is an abundance of evidence that “breakthrough” infections are not rare. The term breakthrough implies that the vaccines were authorized on the basis that they prevent infection and transmission. The vaccine manufacturers never implied such claims. As part of the recent Omicron outbreak, St FX University reported that between December 6 and 18, 2021, 184 students had tested positive for COVID-19. Of those, 183 (99.5%) were fully vaccinated. As well, multiple hospitals and long-term care homes province-wide now have outbreaks, creating immense staffing pressures resulting from fully vaccinated staff needing to isolate. This is all occurring in spite of vaccine mandates as unvaccinated staff and visitors have not been in these spaces since November 30. What else needs to be said?
Third, they must be extremely safe. You cannot ethically mandate a medical intervention that requires people to take a measurable risk to participate in society or maintain their employment. It’s unprecedented, unethical and immoral on every front. As a reference, the 2017 report on Adverse Events Following Immunization in Canada puts the rate of serious adverse events for all vaccines combined at 1.1/100,000 doses. For COVID-19, Health Canada data as of December 3, 2021 puts the rate of serious adverse events at 10.7/100,000 doses. That means your risk of a serious adverse event following COVID-19 vaccination is about 10 times higher than all other vaccines given in Canada combined. This is a decision that requires all the facts and informed consent without coercion, the threat of losing your livelihood and being unable to travel or participate in society.
The NSCLA calls on the Houston Government and Nova Scotia Public Health to end vaccine mandates immediately. Such a policy could only be theoretically justified as a last resort where there is irrefutable evidence of risk (by allowing unvaccinated people into the places they are currently excluded from), vaccine efficacy (in stopping transmission) and an overwhelmingly positive safety profile. There is no evidence that validates any of these points. Digging deeper, even if such evidence did exist, the mandate as it currently stands is over-broad and therefore unreasonable as it is simply not the least intrusive the policy can be while still achieving its desired result. Simply banning anyone deemed unvaccinated from all “discretionary” activities, without nuance, is legally baseless. As an example, requiring a vaccine to participate in outdoor activities such as golf, skiing and many others where there is simply no risk of viral transmission goes against the very science deemed to be followed. It’s accepted by Nova Scotia Public Health that in order to be considered a close contact (risk of being infected), you have to be “within six feet of the person for at least 15 minutes while indoors”. It is reprehensible that the existing vaccine mandate policy excludes ALL unvaccinated people from ALL discretionary activities, including the ones where there is no risk involved regardless of vaccine efficacy or status. This includes the exclusion of unvaccinated people from visiting family or friends in the hospital as well as attending weddings and funerals. For a Government that has acknowledged the mental health toll the pandemic has taken on citizens, it’s unfathomable to have such policies that have and will continue to cause severe mental anguish for thousands of Nova Scotians. This policy, by its very implementation, is counter to the Government’s own accepted science around transmission as well as the established science already presented, and on full display across the world regarding transmission among fully vaccinated people.
Beyond that, according to Public Health’s own evidence, “income and social status are more important than any other single factor that affects our health.” Yet, in the name of public health, they have pro-actively removed the income and social status of thousands of Nova Scotians via vaccine mandates, that have clear downside without any upside or public health benefit that any science or evidence can confer.
It’s time governments the world over, especially our own, start practising what they preach and follow the science, rather than ideology.