Coronavirus

Universities Should Free the Vaccinated From Covid Restrictions on Campus

New CDC guidelines strengthen the already compelling case for doing so.

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A week ago, I put up a post making the case for freeing the vaccinated from Covid restrictions. Earlier today, as if on cue, the Centers for Disease Control issued new guidelines recommending that vaccinated people can stop masking and social distancing in all but a few highly specialized settings, such as hospitals and planes.

CDC Director Rochelle Walensky stated that the vaccinated not only face very little risk of getting Covid themselves, but also are highly unlikely to transmit to others. As I noted in my post last week, these risks are actually much lower than those we routinely accept during a normal flu season, which very few believe justifies mandatory masking and social distancing. If the normally hypercautious CDC now recommends that ending Covid restrictions for the vaccinated, that's a strong indication that it really is the right way to go.

In this post, I want to take up the implications for universities, and make the case that they should abolish virtually all on-campus Covid restrictions for the vaccinated. Most of my reasoning from last week's post applies to the university setting, as well. Constant masking and social distancing is a severe burden. Ending it for the vaccinated will reduce vaccine hesitancy. And, in some cases, continuing to impose restrictions on the vaccinated violates constitutional rights.

The latter point does not apply to private universities. But it does apply to public ones, in situations where they restrict student activities that involve the exercise of constitutional rights, such as protests, religious gatherings, and others.

in addition to these general considerations there are a number of reasons why the case for liberation is even stronger in the university context than in most other settings.

One key factor is that masking and social distancing reduce the quality of in-person education. Both science and common sense indicate that facial expressions are an important mode of nonverbal communication. And communication is a major part of what education is all about! When I stand in front of a class of masked students, it's often difficult for me to "read" the audience and determine how they are reacting it to what I say. Are they attentive or bored? Do they "get" it?  Similarly, if the students can't see m face, they cannot read my  expression. And, as most experienced public speakers will tell you, facial expression is an important part of how we get our points across to audiences. All of that makes me a less effective teacher. And I suspect I am far from the only professor that applies to.

For both students and faculty, it is often difficult to make yourself heard in a large classroom, while wearing a mask. That is especially true of people with soft voices, including many women. Trying to "solve" this problem by passing around a microphone is cumbersome and time-consuming.

Social distancing rules also impede education. They make it impossible to fully utilize our classroom capacity (which is a serious problem for institutions with limited space). They also severely inhibit a wide range of campus extracurricular activities, many of which have great educational value in their own right.  I won't try to argue the point in detail here. But I think the experience of the last year has shown that online education, while far better than nothing, cannot even come close to fully substituting for all the in-person interactions that have been lost.

A second reason why the case for lifting Covid mandates in university settings is stronger than elsewhere is that it's generally easier to tell the difference between the vaccinated and the unvaccinated in the former setting. Almost every student and employee at most colleges is already required to have a university ID. It should not be hard to add a "V" for vaccinated to the IDs of those how have gotten their shots. Then, universities can use the ID system to enforce any remaining Covid rules (assuming, any are justified at all) only against the unvaccinated.

Moreover, hundreds of universities have already adopted vaccination mandates for all students and employees who are going to be on campus in the fall. More are likely to follow suit. Where there is a vaccination mandate, virtually everyone on campus will be vaccinated anyways, and the risk of spread will be even lower.

Along the same lines, most universities have few, if any, people under the age of 12 on campus (the population still not eligible for vaccination). That eliminates the possibility of spreading the disease to children (though spread from vaccinated adults is already highly improbable).

If necessary, it should not be difficult to require proof of vaccination from guest speakers and other visitors to campus who come during the regular academic year. Audiences at graduation and sports events might pose greater challenges. But, if so, they should be dealt with as special cases requiring their own rules. Many such events are, in any case, held outside, where the risk is minimal even for the unvaccinated.

What about students and faculty who cannot get vaccinated for medical reasons, or for whom vaccination doesn't work well (e.g.—because of immunodeficiency)? Such people are a very small proportion of the population. And even they will get a high degree of protection from the fact that nearly everyone around them on campus is will be vaccinated (and thus, highly unlikely to spread).

Still, it is possible this group will need some targeted protective measures. Universities already have special accommodations for students and faculty with various types of disabilities (e.g. -those whose hearing or vision is impaired). A similar accommodation model can be used to protect those with special vulnerability to Covid. For example, they could potentially be assigned seats at a distance from the rest of the class, given special personal protective equipment (PPE), or even some combination of both. Such special accommodations for a small minority should be easier and cheaper to administer than imposing masking and social distancing on everyone.

The details of the accommodations might well vary from case to case. I must leave those details to those who have relevant expertise. I wish only to make the point that an accommodation model is far preferable to generalized restrictions for everyone on campus.

The issue of religious objections to vaccination might be a tougher one. But, in practice, it too will probably affect only a tiny minority of people in most university settings. To my knowledge (I welcome correction by experts!),  no major religious denomination in the US opposes Covid vaccination on religious grounds. Even Christian Scientists (who object to many other types modern medical care, do not categorically oppose vaccination.

Some students and university employees might nonetheless object to vaccination on idiosyncratic religious grounds. But there are likely to be very few such cases. In my view, it may be be reasonable to grant such objectors exemption from vaccination rules, so long as they really are few. But there is certainly a case for denying them. I will not try to resolve that issue here, except to point out that it is unlikely to be a major problem.

The US has hundreds of colleges and universities in a variety of different settings. I don't claim that my approach will work for every single institution. Some may well have special circumstances that I am unaware of. Even at otherwise "normal" schools, there might be a few specialized settings that require heightened precautions (most notably, university hospitals, at those schools that have them).

But the points I make should at least be relevant to a very wide range of schools. Even some of the exceptional cases might at least partially drop restrictions.

In a post I wrote almost exactly one year ago, I advocated resumption of in-person university education, but also recognized the need for various restrictions, given the severe threat of Covid. Many universities, including my own, have successfully used such restrictions to enable in-person education to continue safely in these difficult times.

But the arrival of highly effective mass vaccination is a game-changer. The time has come to free vaccinated students, faculty, and staff from Covid restrictions that now only serve to prolong misery and impede the educational process.

NEXT: Scientists Urge Investigation of Theory COVID-19 Escaped from a Lab In Wuhan

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  1. It would have been a bit more honest if Somin indicated that the efficacy of the vaccines against some variants is as low at 75% at the 95% confidence level.

    1. Are you nitpicking? Or are you suggesting that his main point is wrong and that we should basically remain in the current purgatory forever because of the risk of COVID variants? Because accepting *some* level of risk to resume normal life is surely worth it. And given that the quite conservative CDC has basically given a green light for vaccinated folks, seems like the time to relax most/all restrictions is now.

      1. I am nitpicking a bit. My university is being a bit more cautious that Somin suggests. It is still not lifting testing requirements although we have lready have had to submit proof of vaccination. Even more importantly, we do have students – graduate and undergraduate – from all over the world and will likely maintain distance learning options throughout the fall.
        My complaint with Somin is his being so immediately doctrinaire

        1. Even more importantly, we do have students – graduate and undergraduate – from all over the world

          Dirty foreigners? Ouch.

          1. Vaccination rates in other countries are largely much lower than in the US. And some vaccines (China’s in particular) are of questionable worth according to the head of the Chinese CDC. So I see that non-US students could be an issue. Or maybe things will be much better by fall.

            1. My university has many international students and the faculty has been told to be prepared to make the class sessions available via zoom for reasons such as you mention.

        2. “still not lifting testing requirements although we have lready have had to submit proof of vaccination”

          Why does your college hates science?

          New from CDC “If you are fully vaccinated against #COVID19, you can resume activities without wearing a mask or staying 6 feet apart.:

          1. New from CDC

            New CDC: Old CDC, plus 2 weeks, 3 opinion polls, and 4 focus groups! What a joke.

          2. “Why does your college hates science?”
            Becasue we actually do the science and don’t just respond to edicts like good party apparatchiks.

      2. I would further note that what might make sense in an semi-isolated rural setting is not necessarily appropriate in an urban university in which many students live among “hoi poloi’ off campus.

        1. Class size also makes a difference. Crowded halls with lots of chatting (or shouting) and large lecture halls present rather different risk profiles than 25-person classrooms.

      3. We can no longer be confidant, at this point, that the “conservative” CDC is acting on the basis of science rather than responding to political pressure from the anti-mask movement.

        As for resuming “normal life”, I don’t see why that’s even desirable. Prof. Somin is calling for an immediate return to the old model of university lectures that was developed in the Middle Ages when books were rare, the only way for students to gain knowledge was to hear a professor read the book on class, and modern electronics did not exist.

        The pandemic forced universities to consider new and techniques that should have been implemented years ago.

        Now, the education-government establishment is desperate to roll back the clock, before parents and taxpayers realize how cost-effective those new techniques can be.

        I can remember when Reason magazine used to support educational alternatives such as home schooling, distance learning, and online education.

        Before the dark times. Before the Trump.

  2. “Ending it for the vaccinated will reduce vaccine hesitancy.”
    That hardly seems like a self-evident proposition

    1. At least the first half should occur, that restrictions for the vaccinated should be lifted.

      Anyone now unvaccinated is the unvaccinated by choice. Their fate is not n their hands. The health care system has the capacity to accommodate them.
      Perhaps media reports of each individual’s demise could take the same approach as with seat belts; state whether the person was vaccinated. Reported status as voluntary disclosure as vaxed, voluntary disclosure as not vaxed, or decline to comment (viewer invited to read into that what they wish)

      1. Gasman,
        My comment was not how vaccinated persons should be treated, but whether the CD’s announcement will reduce vaccine hesitancy OR encourage the unvaccinated to lie.

  3. You are missing a basic truth. College administrators are petty tyrants.

    And petty tyrants gotta tyrant pettily.

    1. EXACTLY!!!!

      I prefer the term “nazis” because they are fascist beyond any hope of Christian redemption, but the bottom like is that they are bullies….

      1. “nazis” because they are fascist beyond any hope of Christian redemption
        Wow, you are damned judgmental.

        1. If you had seen what I *have* seen, you would be too…

          1. That is because you are familiar with RAK’s set of intolerant schools.

    2. I’m OK with tyrants.
      That gives them a lot of credit for a single minded pursuit of some goal.
      I see them as lazy sheep. Like “zero tolerance” it is a safe defendable position that requires no thought, no effort, and is easily defendable under the inane ‘if it save just one life’ principle.

  4. One question that came immediately to my mind was: How do I (an enrolled student) know that my fellow classmates/dorm-mates are also fully vaccinated? Ideally, I should know this information, so that I can make an informed decision on whom I want to live with, sit next to in class, partner up with for labs, play sports with, etc etc.

    But I don’t see a practical way to do this. A tattoo on the forehead of the unvaccinated (or, hell, on the vaccinated) would make it easy to differentiate. But there’s lots of reasons why that would never happen.

    Are there practical suggestions about how people can know who around them is and is not safe? Or, is the assumption, “No, there’s no reasonable way to gain this knowledge, but opening up again is still a vastly superior option.”

    1. You beat me to it.

      There should be a system for tracking the compliance of citizens.
      A sort of social credit score, which could prevent the noncompliant from buying plane tickets or boarding public transit, entering the supermarket, buying various goods and services, and bring other appropriate consequences like reduced internet speeds, prosecution, mandatory organ harvesting, factoring into employment, etc.

    2. You should really be asking yourself a different: “My fellow students are already required to be vaccinated against a host of OTHER diseases in order to be students here … am I worried about whether they are complying with those requirements?” Because as a college student in a dorm or classroom setting, measles, mumps, etc should concern you MUCH more than COVID….

      1. Which was a perhaps too snarky way of saying that you shouldn’t be worried about compliance with COVID vaccination mandates if you aren’t concerned about compliance with all the OTHER vaccination mandates that already apply to college students.

        1. Is that true? I went to law school at UCLA, and I don’t remember being asked at any point if I had ever received the usual slew of vaccinations. (This was 30-odd years ago, so it’s absolutely possible that I was indeed asked at the time, and am simply not remembering.)

          But before law school, I did my graduate work in Education…and then in Special Ed…and I do have a distinct memory of being asked on at least 3 or 4 occasions about my vaccination history while attending those programmes.

      2. The real question you should ask yourself is about STDs.
        They are nearly pandemic on some campi…

        1. Ed2,
          Just keep your dick in your pants. That will do the trick for you

    3. How do I (an enrolled student) know that my fellow classmates/dorm-mates are also fully vaccinated?

      The vulnerable are vaccinated. You are vaccinated. What peril are you worried about?

      We know the CDC has “revised” some facts. like the number of infected is at least 83 million added to the vaccinated today, and herd immunity is over 70% and that ignores those with high T cell resistance.

  5. This is a great idea. And the unvaccinated should be tattooed on their foreheads, so that it’s easy identify those who must stay six feet away from everyone else and put the face diaper that doesn’t do anything over their mouth and nose.

    1. And the unvaccinated should be tattooed on their foreheads

      Too hard to see in the dark. The unvaccinated should be required to constantly drone “unclean… UNCLEAN” when in the vicinity of others.

    2. Disaffected, freeloading, anti-social, science-disdaining, belligerently ignorant, lethally reckless right-wingers are among my favorite culture war casualties.

      Our vestigial mouthbreathers get to complain about the situation as much as they like, but without a vaccination they should expect to continue to comply with rules established by their betters.

      1. “Our vestigial mouthbreathers get to complain about the situation as much as they like,”

        You’re allowed to complain as much as you want, Artie. No one is stopping you. Though, I suspect many have muted you.

        1. If those few who haven’t muted him stopped responding, would he still even exist? To quote CS Lewis about another unpleasant person (who ended up having redeeming features, unlike I’d guess this one):

          “Say nothing and perhaps he’ll go away.”

          Most boys, on meeting a reception like this, would either have cleared out or flared up. Eustace did neither. He just hung about grinning, and presently began talking again.

  6. And, again, what of those of us who have already had Covid, and are, biologically, indistinguishable from people who have been vaccinated?

    Are we going to continue pretending that there isn’t any such thing as an immune system, that immunity to Covid is only available artificially?

    1. Can you legally justify a policy that treats people who are equally immune to Covid differently depending on how they came by that immunity?

      1. Fear of litigation

        1. Yes, people who’ve had Covid can litigate.

      2. The array of vaccine requirements for existing diseases (e.g. MMR) that public schools and colleges require hasn’t been challenged AFAIK. And they don’t excuse you from the requirements if you’ve had measles or such. Is this serious *legal* position (I’m not a lawyer, but this sounds silly)? Or just a policy objection?

    2. “biologically, indistinguishable from people who have been vaccinated?”
      Just a bit of overstatement, Brett.
      However, you want on campus, then you’ll get vaccinated even if it is biologically redundant (which it may not be).

      1. Name the test that can distinguish people who’ve had Covid from people who’ve been vaccinated. I had it in February: How could any test of my blood say I hadn’t been vaccinated?

        1. Test question:
          Provide your proof of vaccination.

          1. Oh, right: A piece of paper is a biological difference.

            I said I was biologically indistinguishable from somebody who’d been vaccinated. Suggest a way I could be distinguished biologically, or concede the point.

            Heck, I’ll give you a few days to ask around.

            1. You are not biologically indistinguishable from vaccinated people. They are not douchebags.

            2. As I told you. I have better things to do than ask around for you. For now at least some universities are saying,
              “Obey or watch on Zoom.”

              1. What next? “Show me your citizenship papers, student, before you will be allowed in this classroom”?

                1. off-point.
                  Obey or stay home.

                  1. Obey

                    And there’s the bottom line, folks. This stopped being about a disease a long time ago, and is now purely about unpleasant little people like Donny getting their authoritarian rocks off.

                  2. I see that the Brian-hole must have made his usual nasty comment as a “reply.”

                    1. This one was actually pretty on point.

              2. “Obey” — the demand of the nazi….

                1. Ed2,
                  It is also what your mom told you.

            3. We could all go about our lives if 4 months aga the CDC would have stated clearly what metric needed to be met to drop all the social protocols.
              But science is hard so….no wait, its the CDC, all they know is science….
              It must be science is not being used by the CDC

              I note that nothing has changed in the last month that would prompt the CDC to lift the mask recommendation.

              The only thing that has changed, is the Harris/Obama/Biden Administration is mired in a quagmire of horrendous outcomes of their policies. Employment, inflation, foreign affairs, More separated children at the border in history, gas lines, much higher gas prices.
              The administration is generating nothing but bad news, so its clear the White House told the CDC to make the announcement to lift the mask requirement nonsense.

              1. I would have to agree, that the CDC turn around smells like a politics driven change, since a week or so ago a majority of epidemiologists were saying just the opposite

          2. Test answer: mind your own damn business.

            If you are afraid, don’t go out.

        2. I’d pretty strongly assume that people who had the disease will have a considerably more diverse set of anti-COVID antibodies than those who have been vaccinated. I think all forms of the vaccine are against the spike protein alone. While that is the most exposed and immunogenic feature of COVID, probably people who had the disease will have antibodies against other COVID proteins as well. Not an immunologist, could be wrong.

          1. “I’d pretty strongly assume that people who had the disease will have a considerably more diverse set of anti-COVID antibodies than those who have been vaccinated”
            That is definitely true of people who have received the mRNA vaccines, who should show no IgG(N) antibodies.
            You might know better than I but there may also be other differences.

          2. Yes, that’s correct, you could that way test to see if somebody had Covid. This wouldn’t, however, tell you that they hadn’t also been vaccinated.

            It’s a way of distinguishing between people who have and haven’t had Covid, not people who have or haven’t been vaccinated. So it doesn’t meet my challenge.

        3. But to be more scientific:
          Given that the MRNA vaccines deliver encoding only for spike protein, the expected elicited response of vaccinated persons is production of IgG(S-RBD) antibodies and not IgG(N) antibodies as would been found in a person who has be infected with the virus.

          1. Given that the [MRNA vaccines] deliver[] encoding only for spike protein, the expected elicited response of vaccinated persons is production of IgG(S-RBD) antibodies and not IgG(N) antibodies

            Your latest little attempt to sound thmart is cut and paste plagiarism from here. You’re such a piece of work, Donnie.

            1. What an asshole you are Brian. I answered the man’s question for F*** off

              1. F*** off

                Yeah, that’s just about the quality of response I’d expect from someone caught with their hand squarely in the cookie jar.

                You may recall our exchange from a few weeks ago after you cut and pasted a passage containing a word you clearly didn’t understand, which you then rather embarrassingly tried to pass off as a “typo.”

                This one is a bit more… measurable. So much so that you didn’t even try to deny it, and instead went straight to theatrics.

                I’d say for shame, but it’s clear at this point you have none.

                1. It was a typo asshole. Bye

                  1. “Why do lawyers wear ties?”

                2. Yeah, you’re being an asshole.

                  Cutting and pasting from a source to answer a question is not plagiarism.

                  Once again, you have zero evidence of anything, and don’t even try to counter the proffered evidence, but rather just post aggressive accusations based on nothing.

                  1. Cutting and pasting from a source without attribution isn’t plagiarism?

                    1. The Internet is not academia.

                      I like to link sources myself, but it’s not against any sort of rule r even norm around here.

                    2. That depends on what is pasted.
                      There is no copyright attached to facts. Plus this is an internet conversation, not a venue in which citation is expected.

        4. Brett,
          I note that you have now changed your question or claim:
          Version 1) … are, biologically, indistinguishable from people who have been vaccinated? The answer to than is “false.” as noted below.
          Version 2) How could any test of my blood say I hadn’t been vaccinated? That answer I don’t know except in a limited statistical sense that the variance in IgG(S-RBD) antibodies is larger in uninfected but vaccinated persons

          1. Brett,
            I’d suggest that you might not be as smug it if digested
            “mRNA vaccination boosts cross-variant neutralizing antibodies elicited by SARS-CoV-2 infection” Science 25 Mar 2021: eabg9175
            DOI: 10.1126/science.abg9175.
            It seems to be worth your while to get one mRNA shot.
            Your body, your choice.

            1. I’ve already said I might get one in the fall as a booster, that I’m waiting on better data.

              But nothing you’ve said addresses my point: Testing a person who’s had Covid, you can not tell biologically that they haven’t been vaccinated. At most you might be able to say that, if they’d been vaccinated, they’d also had Covid at some point.

              Can a demand for vaccination legally disadvantage people who are medically indistinguishable from people who’ve been vaccinated?

              I could see the argument for requiring those who want that status to show a positive antibody test. After all, the nasal swab test has a very high false positive rate. But there’s no rational reason a positive antibody test should not serve as well as a vaccine record in establishing Covid immunity.

              1. Brett,
                I strongly recommend that you look at
                “Distinct antibody and memory B cell responses in SARS-CoV-2 naïve and recovered individuals following mRNA vaccination”
                Science Immunology 15 Apr 2021: Vol. 6, Issue 58, eabi6950
                DOI: 10.1126/sciimmunol.abi6950
                You’ll see quantitatively why you should get even a single shot of mRNA vaccine.

      2. Technically speaking, those who have had COVID are likely better protected from future COVID than many of those who are vaccinated

        1. I have not seen a large sample study of the range of IgG(S-RBD) antibodies. The small sample distributions that I have seen published show similar (to within one-sigma) antibodies, with the uninfected but vaccinated having a larger variance.
          So you could be correct but that statement is very far from proved at even the 95% confidence level.

            1. I have seen the large Danish study.
              Yet it is in tension with
              “Genomics and epidemiology of the P.1 SARS-CoV-2 lineage in Manaus, Brazil.” Science 14 Apr 2021: eabh2644
              DOI: 10.1126/science.abh2644

              I’d say the data are still far from definitive

              1. Those two studies are not really alike…

                You argued you hadn’t seen a large scale study. The Danish study is exactly that. A population level observational study. Broken into two studies. A PCR study in the first surge (Pre-June 2020) and in the second surge (Post August/October 2020).

                You look to see who came up positive during the first PCR study (11,727 individuals), and see how many ALSO did the second PCR study months later (11 068). Look to see how many were positive (72). And compare to the general population for the negatives in the first surge and the positives in the second surge.

                The Brazilian study is nothing like this.

                1. I said I had not seen a large scale study of the distribution of various antibodies. The Danish study showed no such distributions.
                  It concentrated on reinfections.

                  1. Reinfections are EXACTLY what you want to look at. To a large extent, antibodies come from the previous infection. (Yes, there are caveats…ie, you can get antibodies from vaccinations, maternal delivery, etc, but in general antibodies come in response from previous infections).

                    What you want to see is
                    1. Were they previously infection with COVID? and
                    2. Did if provide protection from future infections.

                    And the answer, unsurprisingly, is yes. Quite well. In the 80% range. With excellent confidence intervals, as you would expect from the large number of subjects. Antibodies here would be a sign of previous infection.

                    Demonstrating COVID antibodies from previous infection, even without vaccination, is superior to many of the current vaccines out there, and should be allowed.

                    1. Al,
                      1) Don’t tell me what I want to look at

                      2) I want to look at anti-body level in SARS-CoV2 recovered persons in comparison with SARS-CoV2 naive and vaccinated persons.

                      3) Such comparisons require a serological test on all persons included in the study. Therefore the numbers are not large.

                      4) The Danish study is a study of reinfection rates among a large population which has for the most part been exposed to the wild variant or SARS-CoV2. The Manaus experience concern persons mostly exposed to the “Brazilian variant. The implications are in tension, but it can well be that neither is incorrect.

                      5) Your conclusion “Demonstrating COVID antibodies from previous infection, even without vaccination, is superior to many of the current vaccines out there, and should be allowed.” is in marked contradiction to the Interpretation of the authors of the Danish study
                      “Our findings could inform decisions on which groups should be vaccinated and advocate for vaccination of previously infected individuals because natural protection, especially among older people, cannot be relied on.”
                      Read that last phrase over and over and stop letting you politics interfere with your thinking

                    2. 1) Sorry….if you actually care about real world results, reinfection rates are what you want to look at.

                      2/3) Your argument doesn’t make a lot of sense. You want data (antibody levels) that isn’t really there on the scale you want it on. When you argue about vaccination rates and effectiveness, you’re not looking at antibody levels. According to your extreme judgement, the current vaccines don’t have enough data, because you don’t have the current antibody levels and the antibody levels at 6 months, in order to judge effectiveness. So, the vaccines are “worthless”.

                      4) Yeees…. You mean the Danish study is the major current strain… Which is what you want.

                      5) Use numbers. Not conclusions in isolation. Infection provides protection. ESPECIALLY among the college aged cohorts.

                      Stop letting your prejudices skew your judgement.

                    3. AL,
                      Yours is the worst kind of cherry picking to support your politics.
                      SARS-CoV-2 is a multi-dimensional biomedical and public health issue. It is not decided by a study in one country which is so broad that it could not have had the kinds of systematic controls would would usually demand. Note I did not say it is useless. It is informative, but it is hardly dispositive.

                      You now complain that what I initially said I was looking for is irrelevant, maybe to you, but not to many biomedical researchers.

                      So get up out of your armchair and practice law, You clearly are not competent to practice science

                    4. Don,

                      You’re shifting your goalposts dramatically here.

                      Here’s a question. How are you justifying the vaccine’s efficacy? Are you looking at their antibody level generation? Or are you looking at how good they are at preventing infection?

                      Pick one major benchmark.

                    5. AL,
                      I shifted NO goalpost what so ever. You are the one who brought up reinfection statistics when I was discussing differences in immune systems.
                      So I don’t buy your excuse,and no I don’t buy what I have to assume is a deliberate misquoting of the Interpretation of the Danish studt made in print by the study authors.

                2. “The Brazilian study is nothing like this.”
                  True, but it shows inexplicably high rates of reinfection albeit to different strains of the virus. That is what “tension” between scientific data means, Therefore, the understanding of this disease and the variability of immune system response is very far from complete.

                  1. Oyy…

                    Yes, it shows a “higher” reinfection rate to a different strain, relative to the original strain. That’s not surprising. It’s a different strain. Infection with a previous strain still provided some protection.

                    Unsurprisingly there was ALSO a higher infection rate to the different strain for certain vaccinated individuals. Because…it’s a different strain. The data isn’t in tension. It’s exactly what you would expect it to be.

                    1. Previous infection provides resistance to reinfection
                    2. Changing the strain reduces (but does not eliminate) that resistance to reinfection.
                    3. Changing the strain reduces the effectiveness of vaccines.

                    1. Oy,
                      Thick headed and only reading what you want to.

                      Let me quoe again the Interpretation of the authrs of the Danish study:
                      “Our findings could inform decisions on which groups should be vaccinated and advocate for vaccination of previously infected individuals because natural protection, especially among older people, cannot be relied on.”

                    2. You can’t even respond to the comments about the brazillian study.

                      Amazing,…

                    3. “The data isn’t in tension. ”
                      Clearly you neither read both papers carefully nor do you understand what real scientist consider data in tension with… to mean.

                3. In general jousting via single, non-longitudinal studies is not a great way to any kind of definitive answer on either side.

                  1. The Danish study IS longitudinal.

        2. “Technically speaking, those who have had COVID ”
          certainly not supported by your Danish study or by the research published in Sceince Immunology, 15 Apr 2021: Vol. 6, Issue 58, eabi6950
          DOI: 10.1126/sciimmunol.abi6950

          As usual your politics moves your typing hands

          1. You read the paper right?

            Those who had previously tested positive for COVID had much lower infection rates than the general population in the second wave

            1. “Those who had previously tested positive for COVID had much lower infection rates than the general population in the second wave”

              Talk about moving the goal posts to try for a score on the basis a non-disputed proposition that infection does confer some degree of immune system resistance to reinfection.

          2. You obviously did not. You claims are directly contradicted by the authors.
            Just in case your memory is failing you”
            “INTERPRETATION
            Our findings could inform decisions on which groups should be vaccinated and advocate for vaccination of previously infected individuals because natural protection, especially among older people, cannot be relied on.”

  7. ” It should not be hard to add a “A” for Aryan to the IDs of those how have Aryan Blood. Then, universities can use the ID system to enforce any remaining Aryan rules (assuming, any are justified at all) only against the un-Aryan.” “If necessary, it should not be difficult to require proof of Aryan blood from guest speakers and other visitors to campus who come during the regular academic year.”

    “What about students and faculty who are not of Aryan blood?” Such people are a very small proportion of the population.
    “Still, it is possible this group will need some targeted protective measures. Universities already have special accommodations for students and faculty with various types of disabilities (e.g. -those whose hearing or vision is impaired). A similar accommodation model can be used to protect those without Aryan Blood. For example, they could potentially be assigned seats at a distance from the rest of the class, given special personal protective equipment (PPE), or even some combination of both. Such special accommodations for a small minority should be easier and cheaper to administer than imposing masking and social distancing on everyone. The details of the accommodations might well vary from case to case. I must leave those details to those who have relevant expertise.”

    Uh huh… “Libertarian”….

    1. AL,
      You little Aryan argument is way off-base.
      You want on campus, you show proof of vaccination or provide medical proof that you may not be vaccinated.
      Obey or stay home; is that so hard to understand.?

      1. Oh no, under Ilya’s idea those who medically can’t be vaccinated are put in special “protective gear” and put in a “special area” of the classroom far away from the others….

        Maybe they even get “special” housing….

        1. Meanwhile, those college students who have already had COVID are more protected against infection than those who get the J&J vaccine…yet they STILL are relegated to the “special” group.

        2. You can’t really think that Ilya thought his “ideas” through?

          1. Who knows….

            What I do know is “vaccine passports” are a bad idea. They lead down too easy a road to authoritarianism.

            1. First it’s “Show me your vaccine passport” to get into a building or store.
            2. People “fake” vaccine passports
            3. Demands for a “central database” of “vaccine passports” that can be checked.
            4. Why not add other critical information? Perhaps “citizenship?”
            5. “Sorry, you’re not legally in the country. You can’t be allowed in this classroom or grocery store”

            1. “What I do know is “vaccine passports” are a bad idea. They lead down too easy a road to authoritarianism.”

              Hayseeds like this were probably warning of the dangers of stop signs, center lines, crosswalks, municipal water systems, public schools, and similar advancements.

            2. Gee, all of those did not sound so bad.
              But seriously, if your favorite airlines demand proof of vaccination or you don’t fly, you’ll either get some “official proof” or stay home. If your university wants proof of vaccination, (mine does), I supplied it or I could decide to remain off campus.
              If covid de facto becomes a thing of the past, demand for fakes will fade, especially if they are more expensive than getting a shot.
              I support voter ID; so no complaint there.

              1. No, we’re going far beyond just “voter ID”

                We’re going to “You want to buy gas, show your citizenship card…”

                1. Al,
                  You’re exaggerating there.
                  BUT if you want to by 100 rounds of ammunition, that could happen

                  1. Are we? This is exactly what Ilya proposes with his vaccine passports.

                    1. If you think that certain business will not require proof of vaccination, you’re kidding yourself.
                      If you’ve been vaccinated, you should get a proof of immunization from your health service provider.

            3. I wonder what the Venn diagram looks like for people who support Voter ID laws and who think that vaccine passports are for Nazis.

              1. More fun would be the opposite Venn Diagram.

          2. No, I think he hasn’t. In particular, he hasn’t thought about the fact that natural immunity is actually a real thing.

            He’s still operating on a, “Only vaccination works” level, as are most of our policy makers.

            1. You’ll notice I am not defending Somin’s OP

      2. It clearly is about “obedience” — and you want to be careful with the “stay home” bit — it’s only 5 years to 2026….

        1. Ed,
          Is that a threat? If so it is hardly convincing
          By the time that the Orange Clown gets through with the republican party, it will be a national minority party for decades

  8. CDC turned on a dime today.

    Last week, maybe next Mother’s Day for back to normal/I wont send my 16 year old to summer camp. Biden masked on zoom calls.

    This week, “If you are fully vaccinated against #COVID19, you can resume activities without wearing a mask or staying 6 feet apart”

    Science sure changes fast these days.

    1. Science sure changes fast these days.

      “When the opinions of enough of my party’s constituents change, I change my mind! What do YOU do, sir???”

      1. Of course the “party of science” no more accepts actual scientific methods and standards than the party of the Orange Clown. Why should anyone be surprised that CDC caves to political pressure.

        1. Are you telling us that continued masking requirements at colleges and universities is based on Science?

          1. I can only speak about my university and the answer there is a strong “yes.”

            1. 2026 approaches…

              1. what means what?
                The Orange Clown will be rotting in hell by then

            2. What is the strong science about masking that your university is using? I’ve not seen great studies. Certainly the correlation between public policy restrictions (masks etc) and outcomes (particularly deaths) is rather murky. At least to me.

              1. The business of our university is science and technology and any such decisions are made based on in-house expertise and consultation with experts worldwide. That is what I meant by a strong yes.
                Without identifying the university, I note that it has one of the finest complex of biology institutes of any university, It has done aerodynamics experiments to establish ventilation and spacing levels for classes and must account for many foreign students who still may be unvaccinated in the fall.
                Having said that, I agree with you that correlations beteen public policy and outcomes is murky. All the more to apply science to our university policy with an abundance of caution.

                1. Um, I most likely got a Ph.D there if that is the study I’m thinking of. And I I don’t have as much faith in the scientific basis of the administrations decisions as you. But of course, they are free to make whatever decisions they like.

                  1. I did not say I have faith in the Administration’s “scientific” decisions. I did say I have considerable confidence in our university’s administration to make solid prudential decisions grounded in science

                    1. I would be very interested to know what Biden’s science advisor had to say about the release of the CDC guidance. After all he is a top quality biomedical research scientist.

              2. I’d say a little more. The strength of the science, usually although not always, is commensurate with the quality of the scientists doing the work.

    2. Public health includes making judgement calls based on the science.

      Of course those who liked to argue we’d be masking and social distancing forever because tyranny are super mad about this.

      1. What science infomed the CDC to lift the mask recommendation that is different from a month ago? And don’t hide behind the tracking numbers. The CDC is religious about refusing to state metric goals to trigger the lessening of social protocols.

        1. Public health.

          Not all relevant science is virology.

        2. Rather than guessing about the basis, read the CDC issued statements.

      2. Would you say that the public school opening policies have been at all based on science? It feels vastly more like an exercise in political power by the teachers unions and those who depend on their political support. Particularly since the controlled experiments have been done in most communities because the private schools have opened much more than the public ones.

        1. Right. In fact, around here the private schools didn’t close for more than a few weeks, then reopened.

          They had no problems.

        2. Public health is not just virology. It’s policy analysis, and sociology, etc.

          I’d kick things up a level myself, but guidance changing isn’t strange or deceitful.

        3. “vastly more like an exercise in political power by the teachers unions and those who depend on their political support.”
          There I agree with you. But don’t discount political pressures from parents (aka voters)

    3. Science sure changes fast these days.

      So we’ll chalk Bob from Ohio up in the “doesn’t understand how scientific knowledge works” column.

      1. Yesterday, the CDC was being too conservative about masks and its advice was too complicated.
        Today, the CDC has moved too fast and is providing advice that doesn’t allow any exceptions.

        So CDC is always wrong.

        Very good faith stuff here.

        1. Well, among my well educated, scientifically literate, and mostly techie friends, it is amazing how often “the science” is cherry picked for things that agree with their policy preferences. Perhaps kind of like the law or other areas, confirmation bias is mighty strong. Feels like “the science” is used as a mantra, a weapon, or a talking point pretty often in COVID discussions.

          1. ” Feels like “the science” is used as a mantra, a weapon, or a talking point pretty often in COVID discussions.”
            For exactly that reason, in my own professional organization, I declined to sign the “Trust Science” statement

          2. Sure, science should not be a talisman, and it too often is.

            But at least as bad, if not worse are those who reflexively scorn experts, just to have someone to yell at.

            1. We’ve seen a lot of that here.

        2. So CDC is always wrong.

          Maybe not, in the stopped-clock sense. But it’s always politically driven. The 6-week about face from “impending doom” to “hey, let’s all get back to NORMAL, folks!” showed that clearly enough.

  9. My view is that the only group less in need of masking than college undergraduates are K-12 kids. K-12, absent serious comorbidities, dying from COVID-19 are statistically drowning in mop bucket territory. College undergraduates are probably statistically more in lightning strike territory.

    So, of course, the most vocal proponents of continued masking here in MT are found right by the University of MT campus in Missoula. Several engaged in rabid screaming at me for the the sin of entering a grocery store there without a mask. Never mind that I had been vaccinated a couple months earlier, nor that my lead tormentor had really vaccinated about the same time. Or that there had ever been very many documented cases of infection in such a situation.

    Meanwhile the special snowflakes there at that university are demanding that they be exempted from the recently enacted preemption of gun laws that used to prevent anyone from going armed on campus.

    1. “College undergraduates are probably statistically more in lightning strike territory. ”
      Bruce,
      Your exaggerations render your entire argument questionable. Undergrads are not the only people on campus. And giving student behavioral privileges that staff and faculty cannot have because of their “advanced age” is not going to happen (and maybe is even prima facie age discrimination). So “man-up” get your shot and submit your proof of vaccination or a bona fide medical exemption.

      1. 2026 can’t come soon enough!

        1. Okay, fine, I’ll bite: what does Special Ed think is going to happen in 2026?

          1. The children not born in 2008 won’t be turning 18.
            Floor drops out of admissions cohort.

            1. Thus spake the chicken little of the right.

            2. Don’t worry Ed,
              Little brown children will make up the deficit

            3. As always, what is Special Ed talking about? There is no drop-off in 2008.

              https://www.statista.com/statistics/195908/number-of-births-in-the-united-states-since-1990/

              1. Nearly an 8% drop from 2007 to 2010 and continuing to drop since then, using your own numbers. There was a bit of news about it at the time.

                1. I know, I mean births in 2008 were the lowest in 3 years!!!!

                  2008 had the third highest number of births in the 2000-2009 decade. If Ed had said ‘the generally declining birth rate is going to put continuing demographic pressure on college enrollments’, OK[1], but the birth data doesn’t support that 2008 births are some kind of demographic cliff for college admissions – just look at the graph. If 1996 didn’t end college as we know it, 2008 won’t either.

                  And old articles from innumerate reporters don’t trump the data, any more than reporters saying ‘the tornado/blizzard/whatever this week shows global warming …’. Reporters have to come up with verbiage every single day. Pretending statistical noise is a trend is just one of the things they do to help them make the daily word count.

                  In financial circles, there are pundits who are described as ‘having successfully predicted 27 of the last 3 recessions’. Noise is not a trend.

                  [1]it would still be a shallow look at things – immigration, foreign students, or increasing rates or attendance might increase admissions even with declining births. Or not.

                  1. 2008 had the third highest number of births in the 2000-2009 decade.

                    What a strange thing to say when the question is about the end of the decade and into the next one. In reality, 2007 was the high point of the 30 years represented on the graph, and since 2007 births have been on a nearly constant and substantial downtrend, ending over 13% down in 2019.

                    Noise is not a trend.

                    Agreed, but again a weird choice of words given the clear message of the data.

      2. Undergrads are not the only people on campus.

        Those people have been vaccinate, previously infected, and/or made a personal decision. Those people don’t need a cocid nanny telling them how to live their life.

        1. But they may need the nanny’s permission to be on campus. See how that works?

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