The Ethics of COVID-19 Vaccines

Aditi Bhargava
6 min readNov 4, 2021

Vaccines are unique as unlike other drugs and medications, they are administered to a large population of mostly healthy individuals, often young children, for prophylaxis. Until January 2020, vaccines were defined as agents that work through protection of the individual as well as at the population level, for example, through herd immunity or eradication of the infectious agent. Thus, they were subjected to the highest safety standards. But all the safety standards as well as the definition of vaccine and anti-vaxxer were changed as COVID-19 vaccines were developed with “warp” speed. While these vaccines have failed miserably in providing good or robust immunity, the vaccine-makers themselves have perfect immunity from any accountability, now or ever. What a win-win situation and long-term recurring revenue model.

COVID-19 vaccines are often compared to chickenpox vaccines. This is apples to oranges comparison because RNA and DNA viruses are fundamentally different. DNA viruses mutate at a very slow rate, whereas RNA viruses, such as SARS-CoV and influenza viruses, mutate more frequently. Some DNA and RNA virus induces life-long immunity. After a natural infection with DNA or RNA viruses such as the chickenpox or polio, respectively, no one needs to be vaccinated or develops the disease in their lifetime.

In contrast, some RNA viruses mutate frequently and do not induce life-long immunity, as we have seen with SARS-CoV-2 or flu viruses. One can have influenza multiple times in their lives, vaccines or no vaccines. Flu has not been eradicated, nor is there any talk to eradicate it. There is no herd immunity for flu. It is simply not an achievable goal. Yet we continue to mandate flu vaccines.

Safety issues with vaccines happen, despite best of intentions. There are no drugs without side effects. Unlike other drug trials, vaccine trials are different as they are tested on a largely healthy population to prevent infection, which we have established COVID-19 vaccines do not. For example, measles and rotavirus vaccines have been recalled due to safety concerns, despite stringent clinical trials and years of data. Rotavirus vaccines caused 1 death per 20,000 and that was 1 too many, but despite over 7000 deaths with COVID-19 vaccines, we have not paused to re-assess safety or question these mandates.

Good vaccines are modeled to mimic natural infection and rely on one’s own immune system to produce antibodies and provide protection. Natural immunity is the gold…

Aditi Bhargava

Dr. Aditi Bhargava is a molecular neuroendocrinologist with research focus on sex differences in stress biology and immunology.