Instigator / Pro

Proof of COVID vaccination should never be required for any purpose by either the government or any private entity.


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Contender / Con

Burdens are equal.

Round 1
This debate is about COVID vaccines.

COVID vaccines are experimental gene-based vaccines with unknown effects & risks. They didn't undergo ordinary testing required of traditional vaccines, and their "emergency use authorization" is characterized by a lack of evidence, incomplete scientific knowledge, and severe safety concerns.

Nobody should be forced to get one of these vaccines without informed consent. And given the potential health risks, not only to individuals but to our collective balance with the virome, only the most vulnerable people should ever consider getting vaccinated in the first place.

1. Compulsory vaccination violates fundamental rights.

No right is more sacred than the right to decide what happens with our own body. This right to self-determination & bodily integrity gives rise to the principle of informed consent, and the logical corollary of that principle is the right not to consent.

Compulsory vaccination violates these sacred rights. As an experimental technology, it also violates the basic ethical principles established after the Nuremberg trials against human medical experimentation. See Nuremberg Code

2. Requiring proof of vaccination also violates fundamental rights. 

Requiring proof of vaccination needlessly interferes with people's privacy about their immune status and/or vaccine hesitance, and it interferes with freedoms of expression & religion.

Many people voluntarily get vaccinated. If vaccination makes these people immune to COVID, that solves their concern. Nobody needs to know who is vaccinated, as this knowledge doesn't make anyone more immune. Vaccination alone protects from COVID.

3. COVID vaccines could have catastrophic consequences for human life. 

COVID vaccines genetically modify our cells to make spike protein, which in turn causes our adaptive immunity to create antibodies. Just as Monsanto modifies corn to handle glyphosate, the vaccines modify humans to handle spike protein via antibody stimulation.

In nature, mRNA can't freely enter cells to make protein, as hundreds of different control systems regulate our relationship to the virome. CAS9 enzymes, for example, cleave unwanted viral DNA as it enters cells, while APOBec3A/3G enzymes induce viral latency after insertion into human DNA. The production of antibodies isn't a first step, or even a second step. It's a last resort, rarely necessary to establish biologic balance, and taken only after triggering our innate immunity.

Antibodies don't protect us nearly as well as our innate immunity. As the inventor of CRISPR technology explains, our innate immunity is a form of "genetic vaccination" that protects cells from viruses, not just over one generation, but over a human lifetime of generations, all without the need to make antibodies. See Doudna 2015.

COVID vaccines use an experimental technology to bypass these ordinary biological pathways, effectively manipulating large sets of complex & interdependent factors, including unknown variables, and shutting down the normal checks & balances of our innate immunity, something that not even Monsanto has experimented with.

This has never done before, and the consequences are unforeseeable and potentially catastrophic. Indeed, the emerging evidence paints a terrifying picture:

  • Fohse 2021 shows that COVID vaccines weaken our innate immune system, not just in relation to SARS-CoV-2 but also in relation to other viral & bacterial infections.
  • Liang 2021 shows that virome interference has been directly associated with human disease, including development of paediatric type 1 diabetes, growth stunting in children, coeliac disease, and inflammatory bowel disease, among many others, including unknowns. To the extent COVID vaccines interfere with the virome, these problems may show up down-the-road, including in the progeny of vaccinated individuals.
  • Lei 2021 shows that spike protein attacks cells in our body. This means that vaccination directly leads to harm in our body, as it causes the production of millions of spike protein. This vaccine-induced spike protein could end up anywhere in the body, including our vascular system, or brains -- again, the potential consequences are unforeseeable & unknown at this time.
  • Cassen 2021 shows that COVID vaccination increases risk of autoimmunity, prion diseases, as well as other types of viral infections. These consequences won't show up for years after vaccination, so we won't know how widespread the damage until it's too late. 
  • Bossche 2021 shows that mass vaccination could lead to "immune escape" as a result of weakening our innate immunity. The more we use vaccines to immunize people, the more we create a disordered relationship to the virome, increasing the likelihood of viral resistance to vaccines due to replication/transmission of viral variants. As a result, mass COVID vaccination could engineer an outcome similar to antibiotic resistance, "one of the biggest public health challenges of our time," predicted to cause 10 million deaths annually by 2050. See CDC 2021. This could threaten human existence itself.
  • Yeadon 2021 shows that vaccination-induced spike protein leads to a range of abnormalities in people who were previously healthy, including unusual blood clots and thromboembolic events in people younger than 50. 
These findings explain, at least in part, why mass vaccination has led to an increase in overall mortality among the vaccinated, especially in people younger than 70. See e.g. IPC 2021 (analyzing data in Israel after mass vaccination campaign). It also explains why the VAERS database reported 4,434 deaths from COVID vaccine recipients as of May 10. See VAERS 2021. And that's just what the evidence shows so far. We don't know how many harms have gone unreported, or simply haven't been discovered yet.

Rather than pretend we fully understand the "science," we should recognize the limitations of current understandings. Nature is too complex, and many of the relevant variables are still unknown. We don't even know where the vaccine's mRNA goes in recipient's bodies, how long it's translated, how long spike protein remains in cells, or how long antibody stimulation lasts. Nor do we know whether these genetic changes might spread beyond control via horizontal transfer.

Because we don't know enough, gene-based vaccines have never been approved before, despite extensive research into mRNA vaccines for flu, Zika, rabies, and cytomegalovirus. The extreme risk of unintended consequences, including catastrophic consequences like the extinction of human life, strongly suggests that we limit vaccination to only the most vulnerable populations, specifically those over 70 years of age. 

If you're under 70, your chance of dying from COVID is lower than your chance of dying from the flu. See Yeadon 2021Ioannidis 2020Mueller 2020Levin 2020. Because COVID presents minimal health risks for younger people, the health risks of vaccination clearly outweigh. Even older people should think twice about vaccination, as unforeseeable, catastrophic risks could outweigh heightened health risks from COVID -- at least for some people.

4. SARS-CoV-2 could benefit human health.

What doesn't kill us makes us stronger. SARS-CoV-2 functions like a genetic update, integrating into the genomes of COVID survivors. See Zhang 2021. As our bodies adapt to this new genomic information, we become more biodiverse & resilient, thereby decreasing the likelihood of complex biologic degradations in the future.

This is part of nature's design. Viruses promote greater biodiversity, regeneration, and health. This is why humans have roughly 10^13 viruses in their body at any given time, and why 20 to 50 percent of the human genome is viral in origin. See Liang 2021. Viruses caused the first mammals to form a placenta, leading to the first live birth in history. See Chuong 2018. And viruses are responsible for the regenerative capacity of our stem cells. See Zhang 2019Santoni 2012.

Viruses cause harm or benefit based on their role & relationship to the virome. See Liang 2021. Consider norovirus & astrovirus, for example. Norovirus appears to restore intestinal morphology, while astrovirus appears to protect against the harmful effects of norovirus through the induction of type III interferons in the intestinal epithelial barrier. Thus, we must look at the relationship between viruses to understand their impact on health.

This virome perspective applies to SARS-CoV-2. See e.g. Dee 2021 (finding that human rhinovirus blocks SARS-CoV-2 replication within respiratory epithelium). Hence, SARS-CoV-2 could benefit human health, especially in people who already have a healthy relationship to the virome. This explains why most people barely show any symptoms from COVID, including many who show no symptoms or illness at all.

Yes, SARS-CoV-2 leads to illness in some people, but these people tend to be older or unhealthy to begin with. I argue that the virus doesn't inherently cause illness, but rather exposes a pre-existing unhealthy relationship to the virome. As such, COVID offers an opportunity to restore health, to change one's lifestyle, and thus to build more resilience against novel viruses of the future.

We shouldn't take this option away from anyone by requiring COVID vaccination.

It's been a while, FourTrouble. Let's do this.

I. Overview

1. Definitions/Case

“Proof of COVID vaccination” - I will contextually define this as vaccine credentials. These would take the form of some physical and/or electronic ID that serves as an official record of immunization, including a QR code that can be scanned to ascertain your vaccination status. These would be given out for free to anyone at the point of vaccination.

“Never” - under no circumstance, present or future. Pro's position, therefore, must apply well beyond the present and includes all future vaccinations against SARS-CoV-2 (SC2), including those that will be fully approved by the FDA, those utilizing attenuated virus particles, and any boosters or modifications to existing vaccines. It also applies to any future instances where the number of cases spike with SC2 as is, and subsequent pandemics that occur with one or more variants of SC2.

2. Burdens

I will be focusing my case on the mRNA vaccines from Moderna and Pfizer. So long as I validate their usage and support any plausible requirements (i.e. if you are not vaccinated, you are barred from certain services), even insofar as my case offers improvements over existing policy used by any government or private entity, I will have met my burden.

II. Advantages

1. Applications

Countries currently deny or substantially restrict entry to defray risks of renewed viral spread, often requiring invasive testing and extensive quarantine periods. Validating vaccination offers many people meaningful opportunities to avoid being subject to travel bans and restrictions, affording opportunities to reunite with family, find work, and escape dangerous circumstances.

Hospitals and nursing homes house a variety of patients who are immunocompromised. Ensuring that both staff and visitors to those wards are vaccinated provides a significant degree of security to those patients who may not respond to vaccination.

Schools and universities commonly require proof of multiple vaccinations to attend. Classroom environments facilitate the spread of a variety of airborne diseases. Airlines encounter similar problems. The guarantee of vaccination among those required to be in close proximity also offers security to parents/customers.

2. Increased Vaccination

These requirements also incentivize vaccination. These vaccines have been extensively tested for both safety and efficacy with consenting participants. Studies done during clinical trials and since their rollout demonstrate their effectiveness: they afford immunity to the vast majority of those inoculated, yield durable immune responses, and those infections that occur produce reduced viral loads and symptoms. Regardless of age, anyone can acquire and transmit the virus, meaning that the benefit of vaccination applies well beyond the recipient. Moreover, there are other risk factors that patients may not be aware of, and severe, lasting symptoms with higher incidences can also result.

However, vaccines are limited. Those who are immunocompromised often remain vulnerable, as do roughly 5-6% of those who get both doses of the vaccine. Vaccine-induced immunity can also be overwhelmed by large challenge doses, validating continued concern by the vaccinated over those in their proximity.

III. Rebuttals

1. Legal

Privacy as it relates to medical status is not an absolute right, especially with infectious diseases. Schoolsstates and countries can and do impose requirements. Businesses can ask patrons if they have been vaccinated. SC2 has already required substantial invasions of medical privacy. States track who has been vaccinated and many require individuals to submit to invasive testing. Those who test positive are subject to invasive contact tracing.

2. Science

a) Sufficiency of Research

These vaccines are built on extensive work done with related coronaviruses SARS-CoV and MERS-CoV, which informed the dosing and immunogenic considerations. It is unsurprising, given this history, present worldwide need, and recent scientific advancements, that these became the first widely used mRNA vaccines.

b) “Actual” Harms

Pro claims that vaccination has yielded a death toll. His first source is in Hebrew - kindly provide another. His second is the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) database. This source is problematic: reports contain “information that that is incomplete, inaccurate, coincidental, or unverifiable”, lack information from investigations into reported cases and lack any evidence of vaccine-induced causality.

c) Potential Harms

Buckle up.

i. mRNA and Immune Response

It is known how long the mRNA from the vaccine lasts in tissues (this also limits translation). We know how long the spike protein lasts. Antibody persistence has also been studied, though the upper limits have yet to be reached. Pro provides no mechanism for horizontal transfer of mRNA, though full virus infections, including SC2, use it to evolve.

mRNA vaccines do not genetically modify human cells. They are RNA transcripts delivered inside a lipid coat. That mRNA transcript is shuttled to ribosomes and translated into a protein. This utilizes built-in, well-researched cellular responses to initiate an immune cascade. Like other mRNA transcripts, the RNA used in these vaccines doesn’t last. Their integration into the genome is virtually impossible since the complexes that convert the mRNA to DNA do not form without the viral infection (Pro’s Zhang 2021 supports this) and their concentration is too low. Both mechanisms Pro mentions - the CRISPR-CAS9 system, which can cleave the genome and insert unique sequences and Monsanto's GMOs, which result from changes to a specific enzyme-coding sequence - are entirely distinct.

Onto antibodies. Both innate (nonspecific, rapidly developed) and adaptive (specific, slowly developed) immunity are supported by the production of antibodies. Antibodies are part of a sustained response that usually develops later in the immune cascade, resulting in durable memory cells that protect from future infections. These antibodies are necessary for a broad range of infections, particularly for SC2, which initiates sustained, uncontrolled innate immune responses without the direction of antibodies that can lead to lung injury and immunopathology. Pro’s source for “genetic vaccination” applies solely to the CRISPR system, an immune response unique to bacteria.

Pro misinterprets Fohse 2021. The authors say that SC2 vaccination “could contribute to a more balanced inflammatory reaction during SC2 infection”, i.e. the actual impact could be positive. Even the responses to bacterial and fungal targets indicate “a shift towards stronger inflammatory responses,” suggesting a generally stronger innate immune response post-vaccination.

Pro also misinterprets Lei 2021. The authors conclude that their study “suggests that vaccination-generated antibody and/or exogenous antibody against [spike] protein not only protects the host from SARS-CoV-2 infectivity but also inhibits [spike] protein-imposed endothelial injury.” Additionally, the vaccine-derived expression of the spike protein is confined away from the circulatory system by way of injecting into the muscle tissue and by use of an anchor moiety added to the expressed protein. The protein is also modified to inactivate the mechanism of conformational change required to harm the endothelial cells.

ii. The Virome

Liang 2021 points out that many additions to the virome are harmful, contributing to autoimmune and inflammatory bowel disease. Yet, Pro’s argument goes so far as to suggest that getting the virus that has caused over 600,000 deaths in the US may be preferable to preventing it. This is akin to encouraging lax food safety regulations because E. coli O157:H7 could become part of our gut microbiome. Pro’s examples – norovirus and astrovirus (Pro's study uses murine strains - the human versions harm the intestinal epithelium) – only show inhibition, a net neutral impact. A reduced impact from getting a rhinovirus before SC2 doesn’t demonstrate any benefit from SC2, just that immune responses can be trained to target SC2, kinda like a vaccine.

Importantly, Liang 2021 clarifies that dysbiosis results from new infections, never once mentioning vaccination. All the examples Pro cites focus on the presence and persistence of specific viral infections, suggesting that preventative measures like vaccines facilitate virome stability. SC2 embodies this: viral (including integrated viruses), bacterial and fungal are all perturbed by SC2 infection and are “associated with disease severity and symptoms.” Pro claims that “our bodies adapt to this new genomic information,” though his source only shows that pieces of the virus may integrate into the genome, not that they are functional. Even if other viruses do provide benefits upon integration, this does not mean that SC2 would be beneficial; the ancient retroviruses addressed in Chuong 2018Zhang 2019 and Santoni 2012 could not be more different from SC2, and integration events like these are more likely to cause cryptic effects, no effect or deleterious effects.

iii. The Weak Links

Classen 2021 lacks evidence and specifics. He relies entirely on RNA sequence comparisons, but doesn’t mention how it was analyzed, what software was used, or whether he used controls. Among other criticisms (the journal itself is predatory), no prion and other neurodegenerative diseases have been reported on VAERS linked to these vaccines.

Bossche 2021 is an opinion piece with no citations based entirely on theory.

Yeadon 2021 is an interview and also lacks citations. He also has conflicts of interest, having been fired by Pfizer and working for Novartis.

Back to Pro.
Round 2
This debate revolves around a decision (whether to assume the risk of vaccination or the risk of COVID infection) and who should make that decision. This decision involves a high-level of scientific uncertainty, an experimental technology with no long-term data, and a virus that affects each individual differently. Reasonable people disagree about the risks. Yet Con wants governments and/or private entities to make this decision for us. I argue that individuals should make this decision for themselves.
Re: Con's Case
1. Who are vaccine credentials for?
Vaccine credentials don't benefit voluntarily-vaccinated individuals who are protected from COVID. Nor do they benefit unvaccinated or involuntarily-vaccinated individuals who prefer to assume the risk of COVID infection.

This leaves a tiny group of people who might benefit: vaccinated individuals who aren't protected from COVID. As Con's source explains, “a 95% vaccine efficacy means that instead of 1000 COVID cases in a population of 100,000 without vaccine (from the placebo … approximately 1% would be ill with COVID and 99% would not) we would expect 50 cases.” This is the number of vulnerable people (about 5% of 1% of vaccinated individuals), a number much lower than Con suggests.

How do these people fare in a world with vaccine credentials vs one without? Con doesn't say. Con offers no evidence that asymptomatic unvaccinated individuals are more likely to transmit than asymptomatic vaccinated individuals. Con ignores the potential of testing/quarantines to limit risks. And Con ignores implementation problems, including high likelihood of fraudulent credentials, inevitable malfunctions that exclude vaccinated individuals, and potential discrimination on the basis of ethnicity, nationality, disability, gender, or socioeconomics. If there's a benefit to vaccine credentials, it's unclear & highly speculative. Con can't prove that vaccine credentials would save even one life.

2. Con fails to justify mandatory vaccination. 

When governments and/or private entities condition participation in essential activities (e.g. education, healthcare, work, travel) on proof of vaccination, proof functions as a mandatory vaccination program (or as a severe & discriminatory restriction on participation in essential activities). Con never justifies this.

Con never shows that COVID presents significant enough risks (as explained in R1, COVID presents less risk than the flu for people under the age of 70). And Con fails to show that COVID can't be controlled by other means, including voluntary vaccination, natural immunity, masking, testing, and/or quarantining. COVID cases are plummeting, suggesting that these less burdensome options are sufficient. See CIDRAP 2021.

In a world in which the virus is all but eliminated, a tiny risk to a tiny group of people can't outweigh our individual rights to self-determination & bodily integrity. In the rare event that COVID causes deadly disease, patients are allowed to refuse medical treatment, even if doing so leads to certain death. If that doesn't outweigh, why should we limit these rights here?

Yes, governments have mandated vaccines in the past. But that doesn't mean they should have. And it doesn't mean they should here. Unlike past vaccines like MMR or meningitis, COVID vaccines don't require widespread vaccination to be effective. As Con's sources show, COVID vaccines protect individuals against severe disease regardless of whether others are vaccinated.

Con ignores ethical issues with human medical experimentation, privacy rights (showing that these rights aren't absolute doesn't justify abridging them without extensive justification), as well as interference with sincerely held religious beliefs. Con also fails to offer a limiting principle. Will the local bar be allowed to require proof? What about grocery stores? Could life become a series of vaccine checkpoints, all so that we can provide a tiny group of people with a false sense of increased safety? Life cannot require zero COVID risk to go on. At some point, we must choose to uphold basic rights & ethical principles rather than seeking zero risk at increasingly greater costs.

My Case

The heart of my case is simple: COVID doesn't justify compromising individual rights to self-determination, bodily integrity, medical privacy, and religious freedom. As I explained in R1, vaccines pose significant risks while SC2 offers potential benefits. Taken together, these facts emphasize the reasonableness of choosing to assume the risk of COVID over the risk of vaccination, and therefore strongly supports allowing individuals to make that choice for themselves.

1. COVID vaccines use an experimental gene-based technology with significant risks.
COVID vaccines sneak mRNA into our cells by preventing the activation of our innate immunity. But as Con's source explains, "the paradoxical effects of innate immune sensing on different formats of mRNA vaccines are incompletely understood." We're messing with a biological system that we don't fully understand. And there's no way Pfizer/Moderna could have figured out all possible effects before deployment. The human body is too complex. Which is why Con's sources repeatedly stress the limits of our knowledge (and the need for more research).

Con's source also documents a litany of risks: "recent human trials have demonstrated moderate and in rare cases severe injection site or systemic reactions"; "safety concerns ... include local and systemic inflammation, the biodistribution and persistence of immunogen, stimulation of auto-reactive antibodies and potential toxic effects of any non-native nucleotides and delivery system components"; "potent type I interferon responses, which have been associated not only with inflammation but also potentially with autoimmunity"; "extracellular naked RNA [present during mRNA vaccination] has been shown to increase the permeability of tightly packed endothelial cells and may thus contribute to oedema"; "extracellular RNA promoted blood coagulation and pathological thrombus formation."

Yet Con pretends there's no risk. Con says vaccines won't modify genes, but he ignores the high likelihood of epigenetic change and/or mutation. See e.g. Gibney 2010Holoch 2015. Genes could become disabled, modulated, or expressed as a result of mRNA-related molecules, leading to permanent (and potentially harmful) changes in the behavior of our DNA. Con incorrectly says horizontal transfer of mRNA isn't known, see Rataczak 2006; Wickell 2019 (evidencing horizontal transfer of mRNA), and Con offers no evidence that horizontal transfer (including epigenetic changes) isn't possible or can't spread beyond control.

Con says my sources aren't credible. But that's untrue (these are well-respected vaccine scientists). And regardless of credibility, their analysis holds on its own terms. Bossche describes the risk of "immune escape," which is also described in publications like Nature. See Harvey 2021. As explained in R1, this presents a risk similar to antibiotic resistance, as "immune escape" lineages begin to infect vaccinated individuals. Classen describes the biological mechanisms leading to prion disease & autoimmunity; but of course, these risks won't materialize for years, which explains why we aren't seeing them yet. And Fohse clearly shows that vaccination leads to weaker innate immunity; a "stronger inflammatory response" doesn't show otherwise. 

The Israeli & VAERS data doesn't establish causality on vaccine-related deaths yet (investigations are ongoing). But Israel's health minister recently found that COVID vaccines increased prevalence of myocarditis among men aged 16 to 30 by a factor of 25 compared with background rates. See Vogel 2021. And the CDC backed that finding up, noting that VAERS also showed higher than expected number of observed myocarditis and pericarditis cases among young men. Myocarditis can lead to sudden death.

2. SC2 could benefit human health.

a. Virome

Yes, “new infections” sometimes cause “dysbiosis," but they can also improve biologic balance. As my rhinovirus example shows, simultaneous (not prior, as Con mistakenly assumes) rhinovirus infection “triggers an interferon response that blocks SARS-CoV-2 replication.” See Dee 2021 (explaining that this is a “virus-to-virus interaction,” not a “trained immune response”).

Con misses the forest for the trees. From a virome perspective, SC2 causes disease based on its role in the virome, not because the virus is inherently harmful. Con's own sources support this theory, as they show severe COVID disease correlates with unhealthy viromes/microbiomes. This suggests that prior dysbiosis leads to severe COVID, whereas healthy viromes/microbiomes don't.

If my theory is correct (and it's more than plausible), then we need to consider the possibility that SC2 could benefit human health in certain circumstances.

b. Integration

Con doesn’t dispute that integrated viruses increase our collective biodiversity & resilience as a species (as well as our individual health). Even so, Con asserts that viral integration is more likely to cause harm than benefit. But his source says no such thing. As Ciuffi explains, viral integration offers many potential benefits, “shaping human evolution.” Con's source even refers to integration as “the Holy Grail of gene therapy."

Yes, ancient retroviruses are different from SC2. But that doesn’t mean SC2 integration won’t benefit human health in the long-term (or shape human evolution in beneficial ways). Absence of evidence isn't evidence of absence. Integrated viruses played an important role in our evolution as a species, so we can't ignore the possibility that SC2-integration offers a beneficial genetic update. In 30 years, for example, we might see COVID survivors getting certain cancers at much lower rates than vaccinated individuals.
My Case:

I. Overview

Pro's claims that this debate is about "who should make'' the decision to vaccinate. However, the individual always makes the choice; disincentives, even strong ones, do not remove the capacity to make it.

Pro drops my definitions and burdens analyses. “Never” covers future vaccines and pandemics. Even if current vaccines have safety concerns or limited value now, Pro has not contested that vaccine testing will continue and that future pandemics may require mass vaccination. Further, I only need to show that either the government or any private entity should be allowed to set any requirement for proof of vaccination, replacing existing policy. If it is net beneficial to do so in any instance, then I have met my burden.

II. Applications and Increased Vaccination

Pro does not address any application specifically, arguing that they are all functionally mandates. Three responses.

First, by Pro’s interpretation, mandates already exist just with different requirements (and actual discrimination, as opposed to Pro's “potential discrimination” assertion). Entry into the US has been barred from certain countries. Proof of vaccination offers a means to safely immigrate. Even where travel is allowed, quarantines require individuals to hunker down and submit to repeated invasive testing for SC2, all at their expense. Positive tests result in intrusive contact tracing, subjecting many to breaches of privacy. Vaccine certifications do far less to abrogate their freedoms, consume their time, and harm their “self-determination & bodily integrity.”

Second, my case does not bar anyone from essential services. Hospitals would still accept patients who aren't vaccinated; staff and visitors simply could not encounter at-risk patients if they are not vaccinated. Schooling would continue remotely for unvaccinated students. Airline travel is not essential, nor is anyone guaranteed a space in a nursing home.

Third, my case outweighs the harms of a mandate. His comparisons to human medical experimentation are unjustified given extensive clinical testing and consenting patients. Losses of privacy rights (states track who is vaccinated) and religious freedoms (schools, states and countries impose vaccination requirements) are non-unique. Pro's claims of implementation problems are transient mitigation at best as they can be addressed with improved tracing measures and cause no unique harms.

By contrast, the impacts for using credentials to incentivize vaccination are clear: loss of life, physical harm, and increased viral spread. Pro concedes that vaccines have been mandated before, but sidesteps the fact that mandates have been and are likely to be effective. Pro’s alternative is to wait it out, though despite stratified reductions that leave the young and middle aged vulnerable, over 100000 new cases and over 3000 deaths this past week. At current vaccination rates and with loosening guidelines, cases are likely to surge. Pro drops concerns regarding the immunocompromised, whose vaccinations often yield no antibody production, most notably among transplant recipients and cancer patients. Pro drops the higher incidence of severe, lasting symptoms and the presence of other, often unknown risk factors. Pro drops that large challenge doses overwhelm immune responses, which are particularly problematic in enclosed, crowded spaces over longer periods, e.g. classrooms, airplanes and hospitals.

Pro’s Case:

I. Potential Harms

1. Immunity

a. Innate Immunity

Interferon production blocks SC2 replication. Interferon is intimately linked with inflammation. From Fohse 2021: “One of the trademarks of trained immunity is an elevated production of inflammatory cytokines following a secondary insult.” Ergo, inflammation is key to protection against SC2. Interferon can contribute to autoimmunity, but RNA vaccines address this by triggering the adaptive system directly; since adaptive immunity utilizes highly specific antibodies to activate immunity, autoimmune responses are far less likely. This contrasts with the immune response to SC2, which induces deadly hyperinflammation and autoimmune disease by driving immune dysregulation. Pro also ignores the Fohse 2021 quote about vaccination contributing "to a more balanced inflammatory reaction", contrary to Pro’s claims of weakened innate immunity.

b. Immune escape

Pro provides no mechanism for vaccine-driven immune escape. He appeals to the authority of Bossche without citing any of his research and cites Harvey 2021, which demonstrates SC2 immune escape, but not that it is driven by vaccination. The problem is “fixation rate, which is a measure of how often accumulated mutations become ‘fixed’ within a viral population... the more a virus spreads, the more opportunities it has to replicate, the higher its fixation rate will be, and the more the virus will evolve”. Every variant of concern (widespread with increased transmissibility) emerged either before vaccination became available or in populations with extremely low vaccination rates. Even if some variants escape vaccination-derived immunity, incorporating that diversity into vaccines like we do for Influenza solves, whereas the results of mutations derived from large-scale infection are less predictable and increases the virulence of SC2.

2. Genome Modification

a. Epigenetics

Pro misinterprets his sources. Gibney 2010 shows that endogenous microRNAs (miRNAs), not mRNAs, influence epigenetics. Holoch 2015 is behind a paywall and suggests that an endogenous mRNA has a dual function involving epigenetic changes. Neither gives an example of an exogenous, unrelated mRNA (like these vaccines) making epigenetic changes and Pro doesn’t impact those changes.

b. Horizontal gene transfer (HGT)

More misinterpretation. Rataczak 2006 covers movement of mRNA, not HGT. Wickell 2019 cites an old study that suggests mRNA could act as an intermediate for HGT, then cites two more recent studies that showed that this HGT was “derived from genomic fragments of DNA rather than an mRNA intermediate.” Pro has no examples of mRNA-driven HGT, but viruses do it.

Pro also undermines this argument. If SC2 integration into the genome could be beneficial, then the vaccine mRNAs could be as well. SC2 causes active infections, replicates, and spreads broadly. It is “beyond control” and more infections increase risks associated with that lack of control exponentially. These mRNAs are defined, controlled, not infectious, and are limited in their movement, restricting any such risk.

3. Other Interactions

a. General Complexity

Pro appeals to complexity, but gives no reason why unexpected harms are more likely than benefits. Pro’s uncertainty excludes what we know, including the fact that the extracellular RNA concerns he cites (the paper was written while mRNA vaccines were still theoretical) do not apply to these vaccines because the mRNA is delivered in a lipid coat. These vaccines and their products are contained to the site of injection and are cleared within 72 hours. Harms associated with their presence would be common occurrences during those 3 days if they existed.

b. Prions

Classen 2021 does not provide evidence of a link to prions. The paper holds "no scientific weight at all" and is pure "speculation, with the finding of an obscure connection based on methodology that is not explained". His speculated mechanisms are entirely unproven and based on data from other sources that don't support his conclusions.

c. Myocarditis

This is correlative and cherry-picked. The Vaccine Safety Datalink, another database for reporting adverse events that, unlike VAERS, “does compare rates of adverse events among vaccinated vs. unvaccinated people”, does not show increased incidence. The European Medicines Agency also sees no uptick in incidence. The incidence of myocarditis is “unknown and probably underdiagnosed”, making any claims of an uptick suspect. Finally, the virus itself actually causes myocarditis and pericarditis, while the vaccine link is weak at best.

II. Benefits of Infection

1. Virome

Pro asserts that SC2 causes disease solely via its role in the virome, yet SC2 has characterized virulence factors that interact directly with human cells to cause disease; Pro’s own Lei 2021 demonstrates how the spike protein attacks endothelial cells. None of our sources support his theory. Even if he is right, researchers refer to viromes as "the viral dark matter" due to a near-complete lack of knowledge about their functions. Pro offers no means by which to diagnose an unhealthy virome; he is introducing another risk factor that can’t be detected.

Pro also provides no means by which SC2 could enrich the virome. Dee 2021 only shows that this rhinovirus activates the cellular interferon response, which affects both viruses. This gives no indication of how SC2 could benefit anyone, as the rhinovirus activates the immune response that SC2 would otherwise escape. SC2 has documented mechanisms for disrupting the virome (both integrated and active), bacteriome and fungome, suggesting that prevention of SC2 infection would preserve their stability. Pro is banking on theoretical benefits for an ecosystem researchers barely understand and drops that additions to the virome contribute to autoimmune and inflammatory bowel disease.
2. Integration

Pro claims that any viral integration would be beneficial. However, none of his citations provide examples of a virus like SC2 integrating into the genome let alone providing any benefit, which is a problem when, unlike retroviruses (which are the only ones my citation cited as “shaping human evolution”), do not have a mechanism for integration. Desfarges 2012 (Pro missed this) covers the “Integration of Non-retroviral RNA Viruses”, which is incidental (unlike the deliberate integration of retroviruses) and can cause a broad variety of harms, including disrupting genome integrity, cell death, cancer, persistent infection, viral evolution, and immunosuppression.

Round 3
Well, disappointing as it is to have a forfeit, I'd rather get this judged as a two-round debate than to post a conclusion this round. I ask voters to please consider the arguments given in the previous two rounds for their decisions.