Dear Dr. Fauci, Dr. Walensky, other federal, state, and local elected representatives, and public health and school officials,
I had hoped that I wouldn’t have to write to you again. We have finally been returning to normal. Most mandates — including in schools — have been lifted (except needless public transit masking requirements), and we haven’t seen the massive surge of COVID cases or deaths that many doomsayers predicted. But as talk of new variants and renewed lockdowns and mandates increases, I feel obliged to write and urge you to stop threatening to reimpose harmful and unhelpful policies. I urge you to stop pushing fear.
After a painful two years of COVID-related lockdowns, restrictions, and mandates, people are once again enjoying their lives. Students are learning, building friendships, and seeing their friends’ faces for the first time. People are holding weddings, birthday parties, and other celebrations. Churches and synagogues are packed with worshippers. Restaurants and amusement parks are bustling, planes and hotels are full, and the economy is nearly back to normal. People are experiencing the dignity and economic benefits of working again.
As a physician, I know that every public health and clinical decision requires careful weighing of the risks against the benefits. When the pandemic started in March 2020, we knew very little about how this virus spreads, who it infects, or who is at the highest risk of serious illness or death. There were no vaccines or treatments, let alone any certainty that vaccines or treatments would become available in the future. At that time, it made sense to impose restrictions. There were many downsides, but they were the only tool we had to try and save lives. Today, however, our knowledge of the virus and the tools we have to manage it are entirely different. We now have information with which to conduct a risk–benefit analysis of every policy decision.
We now know that the medical risks of the virus increase exponentially with age and are exacerbated by manageable medical comorbidities such as obesity and diabetes, that healthy children have a statistically zero chance of severe illness or death even when unvaccinated, and that the more recent Omicron variants are far less deadly than the earlier strains.
The evidence now proves (as Dr. Fauci said in the early days of the pandemic) that cloth masks are ineffective, and we now also know surgical masks are minimally protective, while properly fitted N95 masks can protect the wearer against infection. Once we finally reopened schools, we discovered what many of us had been suggesting all along: that there were no meaningful outbreaks that resulted in death or serious illness, even among unvaccinated students and teachers. And we now know that the closures and heavy restrictions imposed on restaurants, businesses, recreational facilities, and the hospitality industry had nowhere near their full intended effects.
Moreover, today we have numerous vaccines available to anyone who wants one, as well as solid clinical evidence of their protective benefits against serious illness or death. We also have information about their lack of protection against infection, and a vast understanding of their risks, all of which empowers individuals to make their own choices. Moreover, we have numerous safe and effective FDA-authorized treatments, including two orally administered outpatient therapies, which can nearly erase the chances of serious illness or death when taken on time. And, thanks to the high infectivity of the Omicron variant, we have exceptionally high rates of natural immunity to the point that we have begun approaching herd immunity.
But the draconian measures we took in the name of “flattening the curve,” “stopping the spread,” and saving lives came with a great cost. We are now only beginning to realize the extent of the devastation caused by the strict COVID lockdowns, school closures, and mandates, nearly all of which failed to have a meaningful impact on the course of the pandemic. We placed millions of people on chronic unemployment and made them dependent on the government for housing, utilities, and food. We caused immeasurable learning loss and psychological harm in children. We caused obesity rates to skyrocket. We canceled countless celebrations and trips, kept millions from seeing their physicians, and induced a permanent sense of paranoia among so many. And we labeled those who dared question these policies as unpatriotic or “domestic terrorists.” In other words, we created enormous harm and division to achieve, at best, a small benefit.
But perhaps the greatest lesson we have learned from this period of our history is that government, and the public health establishment, are not always right, that regular citizens (particularly parents) should be trusted, and that the American people value individual freedom and autonomy above all else.
Despite these facts, we are hearing that public health and school officials are prepared to pull the trigger on reinstating mandates and lockdowns the moment a new “variant” emerges. I am writing to urge — in fact demand — that you not do this.
In addition to enraging a substantial percentage of the population, who are dealing with newer crises such as inflation and global conflict, you would be reopening the psychological and educational wounds of our children, (destroying businesses and jobs, and causing further erosion of the US dollar, all while once again doing little to reduce pandemic-related morbidity and mortality. Given the far weaker variants, combined with natural and herd immunity, and vaccinations and treatments available to all who need or want them, it is entirely unethical and irresponsible to force any restrictions on us.
If another variant does emerge, we don’t need renewed mandates. We need evidence-based recommendations on vaccinations for those at risk, widespread availability of medications, a ramp up of hospital capacity, and the freedom to make our own choices. Regardless of what you do, leave our kids alone. Kids are finally smiling and learning, so don’t you dare harm them again. Parents will not accept this.
Very best regards,
Houman David Hemmati, MD, PhD
The views expressed in this opinion piece are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent those of The Daily Wire. You can follow him on Twitter: @houmanhemmati