Scolding the Unvaccinated Left Biden Unprepared for Omicron | Opinion

A full year into President Joe Biden's term, Americans have watched the China-originated COVID-19 virus work its way through half of the Greek alphabet. We've learned much along the way, including that the Biden administration vastly overstated the COVID vaccines' ability to keep most everyone from getting the virus.

Biden has adopted a strategy of scaring Americans into getting vaccinations and boosters. He said on December 14 that "This is a pandemic of the unvaccinated," and asked "How about making sure that you're vaccinated, so you do not spread the disease to anyone else?" He added on December 21 that fully vaccinated people can safely celebrate the holidays.

Meanwhile, supposedly non-partisan public health agencies, such as the CDC, NIH and FDA, have become thoroughly politicized and have repeatedly downplayed or ignored data that contradict the White House narrative.

When such data emerge, the White House has not taken it into account. Biden conspicuously neglected to mention that the CDC has stated that anyone with an Omicron variant infection, including the vaccinated, can spread the virus to the vaccinated or unvaccinated. Going after the unvaccinated left the administration unprepared to deal with the reality of Omicron.

COVID-19 is more complex than most viruses we have dealt with historically, thanks to its spike protein profile. Spike proteins are the "keys" that viruses use to fuse with human cells and propagate infection. COVID-19 has dozens of these proteins. For comparison, Ebola viruses have one spike protein, the influenza virus has two, and the herpes simplex virus has five.

America's mRNA vaccines work by targeting the spike proteins of the original version of the COVID-19 coronavirus. But just the right mutation in a single spike protein could allow the virus to circumvent the vaccine. Each Omicron variant has at least 26—and as many as 43, depending on how many are expressed—known mutations on its different spike proteins. Because Omicron has so many different, mutated spike proteins, we should not be surprised if the vaccines dramatically lose effectiveness against Omicron and subsequent variants.

If that's the case, it stands to reason that "boosters" designed to address the original COVID spike protein profile would not be effective against the new spike protein mutations of the latest COVID-19 variant, and the same would be true with any future variants with spike protein mutations.

Covid testing site
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - JANUARY 21: A Covid-19 testing van sits along a Manhattan street on January 21, 2022 in New York City. Two years ago, the CDC confirmed the first known case of coronavirus in the U.S. As New York City's Covid numbers begin to plateau, and in some neighborhoods sharply drop, Covid case numbers are still increasing in many regions of America. Spencer Platt/Getty Images

In other words, while the COVID vaccine is effective in combatting the original virus and prior variants, taking COVID-19 boosters for the Omicron variant might be akin to taking last year's influenza vaccine to prevent this year's influenza.

A study out of Columbia University examined the original mRNA vaccine's effectiveness against Omicron. It warned that Omicron's "extensive" spike protein mutations "raise the specter that current vaccines and therapeutic antibodies would be greatly compromised." The study goes on to state: "We found [Omicron] to be markedly resistant to neutralization by serum not only from convalescent patients, but also from individuals vaccinated with one of the four widely used COVID-19 vaccines."

We are now seeing these conclusions play out in the most recent epidemiological data. COVID case numbers from December suggest vaccines and boosters did little if anything to slow the spread of Omicron.

Despite these findings, the president has continued to scold and belittle Americans who have chosen not to take a vaccine or booster in recent weeks. He even attempted to use the Occupational Health and Safety Administration to impose a vaccine mandate on large employers, but the Supreme Court struck it down.

Even while the Supreme Court decision was pending, Americans watched Dr. Anthony Fauci obsequiously stick to the White House narrative that the vaccine and boosters were "highly effective" against new variants. Finally, in early December, Fauci made the milquetoast admission that "If you get two doses of a Pfizer or a Moderna [vaccine], the protection against infection itself is dramatically down."

Instead of providing straight facts on this core question, the Biden administration and America's "independent" and "non-partisan" public health alphabet agencies remained silent, covering for a White House booster strategy that obviously failed to slow the spread of Omicron—while other countries focused on testing, to greater effect. The silence of these tens of thousands of taxpayer-funded federal public health employees who exist to protect Americans' health is deeply disquieting.

Let us pray that our government agencies return to transparency, freedom of inquiry and evidence-based public health recommendations very soon.

Dr. David Gortler is a pharmacologist, pharmacist and an FDA and health care policy scholar at the Ethics and Public Policy Center think tank in Washington, D.C. He is a regular columnist at Forbes and writes on drug safety, healthcare and FDA policy.

The views expressed in this article are the writer's own.