It’s time for Biden to order a vaccine warrant
- Scott Galloway is a bestselling author and professor of marketing at NYU Stern.
- The following is a recent blog post, republished with permission, which originally appeared on his blog, “No Mercy / No Malice”.
- In it, Galloway explains why every American should receive the COVID-19 vaccine.
I had planned to write about edtech and Section4 startups. However, I can only focus on my disappointment – the disdain really – at the lack of leadership at the federal level (Biden) and the manslaughter at the state level (DeSantis).
Between 1964 and 1973, we ordered 2.2 million young men to go to South East Asia, pick up a gun, run into the jungle and start shooting. Those who rejected the call to serve their country faced imprisonment or fled to Canada (and were imprisoned upon their return).
Things have changed since Vietnam. Today, serving on the front line is not only statistically guaranteed to save lives, it’s also a little easier: you step into your local CVS. And unlike looking at the barrel of an M14, it doesn’t kill you. But the call to American service has also changed a lot since then. We no longer demand that you do what’s right for your country – instead, we cajole… beg, even.
Enough already. Federal law should require any citizen who wishes to cash a government check, use public transportation, or enter a place of business to show proof of vaccination. I posted the following post after we lost 300,000 Americans. Nine months later, we have a vaccine… and 613,000 deaths. The world suffers from a shortage of gunfire. America suffers from dysfunction.
Read more: I was completely against the vaccine but changed my mind after doing my own research. Everyone should do the same.
[The following was originally published on December 18, 2020.]
May 10, 1940. British and French leaders witness a disaster unfolding in the east, as Hitler’s forces infect a multitude of weaker nations. Still, the Allies feel confident. They are rich, innovative, … exceptional.
That morning, the Germans attack. They cross the Netherlands, bypass the famous French Maginot Line and plunge south into the Ardennes Forest. They rout the Allies in a lightning assault and push back the retreating army in the valley of the Somme, towards the English Channel. In less than two weeks, the French army fled to the west, the Germans had the skies and 400,000 soldiers of the British Expeditionary Force were stranded on part of the French coast at Dunkirk.
Pinned to the ground and threatened with annihilation, the BEF commander sends a messenger to London. The junior officer pleads with the War Cabinet: “You must send pleasure boats, coasters, fishing boats, lifeboats, yachts, motor boats, anything that can cross the Channel.
A call goes out.
The response of the British people has become a legend. Captains of all types of ships, from river barges to fishing trawlers, sailed in the teeth of German artillery and air power to save their compatriots. Over the next 10 days, the British staged a chaotic and impossible rescue. They saved 340,000 soldiers, including all the surviving soldiers in Dunkirk. The Allies’ first battle against Germany was a colossal disaster for them: France fell in less than a month, and if the UK had lost the men in Dunkirk, it probably would have sought a settlement. Instead, the sacrifice and selflessness of the British people changed the course of history.
The call of our generation
January 2020. America, too, looked east with confidence. A virus had appeared in China and was invading weaker countries, but America was exceptional. We had the best health care system in the world and the brightest scientists, and the Centers for Disease Control was the gold standard for public health institutions.
Then the virus attacked. Like an army of invaders, he escaped almost any defenses erected to slow his relentless march. For almost a year we have been retreating. The enemy exposed our institutions as weak and ineffective and fed on a deadly co-morbidity: the idea that individual freedom trumps collective sacrifice.
COVID-19 has taken us not to a beach, but to our own homes and, more dangerously, to separate spheres of different truths. The daily death toll has passed 3,000, hospitals are reaching capacity and more than a million people contract the virus every week. By the end of January 2021, he will have killed more Americans than deaths in action during World War II.
COVID-19 is a web of death and disability sweeping the country. Every day he kills fathers and mothers, teachers and accountants. Each newly infected person adds a fiber, which makes the web thinner and more deadly.
What we have to do
What we can do – what each of us must do – is to avoid becoming a fiber in this web. To date, we haven’t done a good job on this. Millions of us, from the President of the United States to the bottom, have refused to recognize the seriousness of the threat and continue to cling to a perverse notion of “freedom.” And every day, we add 200,000 more fibers.
How many Americans will be trapped? If the virus runs its course, it could infect more than 200 million more people in the country before herd immunity wipes out the spread. If the death rate is 1%, that puts two million people on the beach, stranded by the enemy, facing death.
But these people must not die. There is a way out. We have vaccines: two in use, a third expected soon and more in preparation. However, vaccines do not save lives, unlike vaccinations.
A call went out.
Will we answer them? A lot of Americans say they won’t. Poll after poll, nearly half of Americans say they are unlikely to get vaccinated.
By now, I’ve gotten used to reading polls saying that half of America has its head in the butt. What’s particularly distressing about the refusal to get the shot is that I don’t have to read the polls to hear it. I hear it from friends, business associates, parents in my kids’ soccer league: “We’re going to wait, to make sure it’s safe.”
While it is true that these vaccines were developed in record time, they have hardly been tested. The Pfizer vaccine, the first to be approved by the FDA, has been tested on 18,198 people; the Moderna vaccine has been tested on 15,200 people. About half of the recipients reported fatigue or chills, and one in seven reported a 24-hour fever. No serious side effects were identified in any recipient, and people who felt sick nonetheless reported that they were happy to have received the injections. Vaccines are one of mankind’s greatest achievements, and they are incredibly safe. Fun fact: you are much more likely to be killed by a dog than by a vaccine. Thanks to vaccination, diseases like measles and smallpox, which once killed hundreds of thousands of Americans each year, are rare or unknown today.
Looking back, calling the effort to procure a vaccine “Operation Warp Speed” may not have been the best way to build confidence in the end product. But the speed with which vaccines have been developed is less a reflection of haste and more of commitment, resources and new technologies.
As of mid-December, scientists had published 74,000 articles related to a virus that no one had heard of 12 months earlier. Almost a third of all scientific researchers around the world have abandoned their previous plans to work on issues related to COVID 19. As Ed Yong recently described in The Atlantic, this pivot is far beyond any historical precedent and will have profound effects on the scientific community. for the coming years.
The speed of clinical trials can also be attributed to the virulence of the virus itself, as it takes so little time for the control group to experience a statistically significant number of infections. Johnson & Johnson recently downsized its Phase 3 trial because infection rates are so high in the United States.
We went fast because we had to and because we could. These vaccines have benefited tremendously from advances in technology, data mining and data modeling.
The technology behind the decades-long Pfizer and Moderna vaccines has also allowed vaccines to reach us quickly. Their new deployment of messenger RNA should also allay a common concern about vaccines: that they inject a modified form of the virus itself into the recipient. Instead, mRNA vaccines provide the “instructions” our immune system needs to identify and overcome the pathogen. They do not alter the DNA of our cells. (If my scientific expertise is not reassuring on this point, vaccines based on traditional approaches are also in development.)
Yet, however, I hear friends and colleagues say, “Even though the risk is minimal, why take it? I’m not at risk for COVID-19.” But the risk of experiencing serious health effects from the disease, even for healthy young people, is real. In July, the death rate among adults aged 25 to 44 was almost 50% higher than in July 2019, an additional 5,000 deaths attributed to COVID-19, among the youngest, in just one month. Even among survivors, the virus has been shown to cause long-term neurological and heart damage in 10% of victims. Yes, the risk is low. But this is much greater than the risk presented by the vaccine.
Whatever the risk to ourselves, however, we don’t take vaccines just to protect ourselves. We take them to protect everyone, to avoid becoming a fiber of the web.
In May 1940, the British sailors and boatmen heading for France did not know whether U-boats, bombers or bad weather awaited them. They didn’t need to know. They knew their compatriots were in danger, and that was enough.
Today we feel like we have lost sight of the connection between sacrifice on behalf of our country and the prosperity and personal freedoms we enjoy. But we would do well to remember that they weren’t really blessed on us – they were deserved.
Our nation has been torn, if not torn. A key part of our redress will be a renewed belief that there is a truth – a truth based not on ideology or opinion, but on data and science.
This vaccine is the call of our generation. Let’s answer it. Let’s get two million fellow Americans out of this beach.
Life is so rich