Sometimes there is a simple, common-sense way to refine public policy. Surely there is a need for a better public health policy to address the COVID-19 pandemic. Medical evidence can overcome stubbornness by public health agencies and disagreements among physicians. Americans can get medical choice without sacrificing public health.
Personalized medicine principles define a flexible two-part pandemic policy that most Americans can understand and support. It can bring together pro-vaccine and anti-mandate groups.
Part One: Individuals decide either on their own or with the advice of their personal physician to be vaccinated for COVID-19.
Part Two: Individuals choose a preferred medical professional who, based on their education, training, experience and successful clinical results, offers alternatives to vaccination and government-promoted medical solutions for outpatients and inpatients. The medical professional uses the patient’s medical history, biological and genetic conditions, and unique personal circumstances to reach the best personalized medical solution.
This two-part policy recognizes a huge array of reactions to both COVID-19 infections and vaccines. Current government policy does not recognize fundamental differences among people. It fails to accept the wisdom of making the medicine fit the person. The cornerstone of personalized or individualized medicine. And using the combination of drugs that is best for the individual. These medical truths contrast with the mass use of off-the-shelf, one-size-fits-all drugs and vaccines.
People are profoundly different in their biological makeup. Reactions to COVID-19 infection are remarkably different. There is a broad range of adverse vaccine impacts. Thus, one pandemic “solution” makes little common sense. Not respecting myriad differences breeds division, conflicts and anger among people who want more choice, more medical freedom.
The two-part policy recommended here does not deny the use of COVID-19 vaccines for those who want the shot. But it does reject vaccine mandates for the entire diverse population that eliminate sensible choice. Medical freedom has been replaced with medical tyranny.
Interestingly, in the first months of the pandemic, there was considerable attention to personalized medicine. That soon gave way to stubborn vaccine fixation for everyone. Here are some examples of early personalized medicine interest for addressing the pandemic:
The Mayo Center for Individualized Medicine said there was an opportunity for the COVID-19 response.
A September 2020 article, “How to use precision medicine to personalize COVID-19 treatment according to the patient’s genes,” noted that “in the rush to find a COVID-19 vaccine and effective therapies, precision medicine has been insignificant. …If precision medicine is the future of medicine, then its application to pandemics generally, and COVID-19, in particular, may yet prove to be highly significant.”
A July 2020 NPR show was titled “Research on Personalized Medicine May Help COVID-19 Treatments.” But there has been no significant attention to this approach since the summer of 2020.
For a personalized pandemic strategy, we need to use pharmacogenomics that combines pharmacology and genomics to discover individual responses to drugs and vaccines. To get treatments that can replace or at least complement the “one-drug-fits-all” approach.
An August 2020 journal article “Pharmacogenomics of COVID-19 therapies” noted that “Pharmacogenomics may allow individualization of these drugs thereby improving efficacy and safety.” Vaccine safety remains a key reason why so many people reject the shot because of all the news accounts of people falling seriously ill or dying shortly after getting the shot.
Add to this the increasing awareness that the mass vaccination strategy has failed. Dr. Anthony Fauci has admitted: “[Vaccinated people] are seeing a waning of immunity not only against infection but hospitalization and death. It’s waning to the point that you’re seeing more people getting breakthrough infections and winding up in the hospital.” And the head of the World Health Organization admitted that the pandemic was surging in countries with high vaccination rates because vaccines do not stop transmission of the virus.
These leaders are catching up with medical research that has found no correlation between the level of vaccination and health impacts. A recent article came to this conclusion: “The sole reliance on vaccination as a primary strategy to mitigate COVID-19 and its adverse consequences needs to be re-examined, especially considering the Delta variant and the likelihood of future variants.”
In sum, there was legitimate medical interest early in the pandemic to use personalized medicine. This fits with many people wanting alternatives to vaccines, such as generic medicines successfully used in other countries to treat and prevent COVID-19 disease. Many oppose vaccine mandates, not necessarily COVID-19 vaccines. And many people want the government to fully recognize natural immunity obtained from prior COVID-19 infection as equivalent to vaccine immunity. To get flexible government action, the two-part strategy given here should be the basis for legislation by Congress. Otherwise, there will be no end to the pandemic.
• Joel S. Hirschhorn is the author of Pandemic Blunder. As a full professor at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, he directed a medical research program between the colleges of engineering and medicine. As a senior official at the Congressional Office of Technology Assessment and the National Governors Association, he directed major studies on health-related subjects. He is a member of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons, and America’s Frontline Doctors.