Courage in medicine: Cornell U. doctor admits he was wrong about vaccine mandates

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By JON MILTIMORE | FOUNDATION FOR ECONOMIC EDUCATION

The great martial artist Bruce Lee reputedly said that all mistakes are forgivable—if one has the courage to admit the mistake.

Paul Fenyves, a primary care physician in New York City who specializes in internal medicine, seems to have learned this lesson. Fenyves, a primary care doctor at Weill Cornell Medicine, recently admitted he was wrong to support vaccine mandates.

“I was initially supportive of Covid vaccine mandates in the Fall of 2021. At the time, I was told that Covid vaccines don’t only protect the individual receiving the vaccine, but they also benefit the community by reducing spread of the virus,” Fenyves wrote on the Substack Sensible Medicine.

Convinced that mandatory vaccination would create a “wall of immunity” that would bring the pandemic to an end more quickly, Fenyves said it seemed “reasonable to prioritize societal welfare over individual autonomy,” noting that early clinical trials of Pfizer’s vaccine were shown to stop 95 percent of infections.

“Surely a vaccine that prevents almost all infections would halt community spread, right? Wrong,” he writes. “Perhaps there was a time when Covid vaccines could significantly reduce community transmission, but that time was short-lived, and the virus quickly evolved and learned to evade vaccine-induced immunity.”

For Fenyves, his awakening moment came in December 2021, when Portugal experienced a massive surge of Covid despite a vaccination rate of more than 90 percent.

Fenyves concedes there are other reasons one could support mandatory vaccination even if it doesn’t reduce community spread, noting that some contend forced vaccination is moral because it’s done “for their own good.”

“I find these arguments to be weak justifications for violating an individual’s autonomy and mandating a medical intervention,” he writes. “Furthermore, these arguments are completely inadequate when applied to young people, whose risk of hospitalization from Covid is low, and whose likelihood of benefiting from vaccination is similarly low.”

Some may argue that Fenyves is right about vaccine mandates, but for the wrong reasons.

Vinay Prasad, an associate professor in University of California, San Francisco’s Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, argues vaccine mandates would be wrong even if there was a community benefit because the social costs are too high.

“My conclusion was always that the societal harm of mandates far exceeds any benefit, and as such I always opposed mandates,” writes Prasad in an introduction to Fenyves’s article.

Others might wonder why it took Fenyves until December 2021 to recognize he was wrong about vaccine mandates. Put aside for a moment that vaccine mandates violate bodily autonomy and the non-aggression principle, which makes them inherently immoral.

As early as August 2021 it was clear that “vaccine breakthroughs” were quite common and that naturally immunity conferred powerful protection against Covid. Why was it not until December 2021 that Fenyves realized he was wrong about vaccine mandates?

These are fair points, but they should not overshadow the larger lesson Fenyves is sharing, which is that scientists and public health officials must act more humbly with their immense power and recognize the limits of their knowledge.

“Those in the medical community who, like me, argued that vaccines should be mandated to protect the community should feel chastened,” writes Fenyves. “When considering mandating vaccines in the future, we should proceed with humility, acknowledging that our knowledge is far from perfect and our truths are often transitory.”

Two words in the last sentence are incredibly important: knowledge and humility.

These same two words are found in F.A. Hayek’s famous 1974 Nobel Prize speech, in which he warned against scientists and planners acting on “a pretense of knowledge.” Instead of recognizing the limitations of knowledge in an infinitely complex world, Hayek saw modern humans “dizzy with success” over the marvels of modern science, which had convinced them they possessed enough knowledge to engineer society effectively.

“The curious task of economics,” he famously wrote in The Fatal Conceit, “is to demonstrate to men how little they really know about what they imagine they can design.”

The antidote to this fatal conceit—which Hayek warned leads to “grave consequences”—is humility.

T.S. Eliot once observed that humility “is the most difficult of all virtues to achieve,” and a lack of it is what lurked beneath the deadly collectivist schemes of the twentieth century, from Stalin’s Five Year Plans to Mao’s Great Leap Forward and beyond.

The “fatal striving to control society” is born of arrogance, Hayek understood. And it was this arrogance that led public health officials and politicians to decide they had enough knowledge to make life-and-death decisions for others during the pandemic, to decide what they had to put into their bodies.

Fenyves is right that a healthy dose if humility is in order, and that the knowledge we possess is far from perfect.

If we fail to learn this lesson, the consequences could be even worse the next time government officials attempt to prevent a crisis from happening.

Jonathan Miltimore is the Managing Editor of FEE.org. His writing/reporting has been the subject of articles in TIME magazine, The Wall Street Journal, CNN, Forbes, Fox News, and the Star Tribune. Bylines include Newsweek, The Washington Times, MSN.com, The Washington Examiner, The Daily Caller, The Federalist, the Epoch Times. 

Originally published on FEE.org; read the original article here. Image Credit: Kenneth C. ZirkelCC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

28 COMMENTS

  1. Even early, peer reviewed studies showed that high enough vitamin D levels were the key, but Big Pharma ignored them because they can’t patent and profit from vitamin D.

    Big Pharma is “love of money,” not optimum health driven.

    • They are brainwashed and won’t give up control…hence the ignoring of CDC announcement that health care workers don’t need to mask up…add to that the visitors. That announcement was (quietly) made just a few short weeks ago, but, as usual, the MSM doesn’t want people to know.

  2. Meanwhile, the Department of Defense continues to assail the patriotic but defenseless men and women of the U.S. armed forces. Humility is a virtue found in very few politicians, and we have learned this week that, “No one fooks with a Biden.”

    These words of H. L. Mencken come to mind, “As democracy is perfected, the office of the president represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. We move toward a lofty ideal. On some great and glorious day, the plain folks of the land will reach their heart’s desire at last, and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron.” An especially corrupt and vain moron is unhappy that anyone would decide to refuse the vaccines and the endless boosters.

  3. Not to mention the US Constitutional right to be secure in one’s person not jabbed at the whim of foreign monarchs, foreign corporations, foreign agents without business licenses of any kind in the state jurisdictions or coerced interventions by non-medically licensed public employees and against religious conscience. Next bogeyman lurks around the connor.

  4. Now we got employments such as southcentral foundation severely short-staffed for its firing the “unjabbed.’ they didn’t think how hard replacing workers in a government dependent state. It’ll take till 2030 before scf sees its employment number what it was sept 2021 with a native workforce.

  5. Funny how Greg forkner usually makes about 12 ego driven asinine comments alluding to how smart and Davy he is…….Greg you sure bought this claptrap hook line and sinker. Do you still believe in the shots? Do you stand by you’re comments that those of us who are unvaccinated will surely die a slow miserable death? You said a lot during the plandemic, what say you now?

    • Frank, happy to read your thoughts above.

      I think it’s important to remember that Greg along with tens of millions of our countrymen were filled with a media driven panic. The European Statistician, Desmond described this malady and named it ” Mass Formation”.
      I have pity for Greg and the others, I hold our leaders who apparently were in on this scam, ( T- Rump too) in contempt.

  6. The genius of the first amendment allows for contrarian views to challenge elite orthodoxy, and expose possible fallacies. It’s how a free society is able to learn and grow. With mandates and suppression of contrarian speech, we are held prisoner to ideas that may be flawed. Imagine not being allowed to discover the fact face masks don’t prevent Covid. To this day, Chris Constant still believes face masks worked and saved lives.

    • I agree with everything you say, but please leave Chris Constant out of it. He appears to be mentally ill. Saying that Chris Constant believes something is the lowest of bars and establishes nothing. The words “reprehensible” and “nauseating” come to mind for some reason.

      • Sorry, I just can’t help myself. I find few things as repulsive as an idiot with power who insists he knows better than us as to what is best for us.

  7. This is a beginning of a beginning for the medical community to reclaim the legitimacy that they have burned recently because of covid. (We will temporarily put aside the doctors who mutilate children.)

    I suggest that one seeks out doctors that stood up to this violation of our bodily autonomy and may have paid the price. Find them. Make them your doctor. I know that Dr. Fraizer paid the price as he would not go along with this and Providence Hospital fired him for it. I was lucky enough to see him before he left for Dutch Harbor for the summer. (I can”t seem to find where he has gone since.) It was the most impactful medical appointment I have had in years. He gave me medical advice I could use that did not rely on being chained to a pharmaceutical. Truly a doc with the seemingly forgotten ethic of “first do no harm” and then follows with meeting the needs of their patients where they are instead of advocating an agenda.These docs are out there and need our support.

    As for the docs who went along with the covid bull cookie and have not repented? Forget them. They are useless and do not have your interests at hand or at heart.

    • None of us will really know how many doctors were FORCED to become “two-faced” to keep their jobs and help those they can.. It took “guts” for those who stayed in their medical expertise and caring for those,regardless of the stupidity of the “rulers”; Dr. Zink comes to mind.

  8. This shouldn’t be viewed as defiance to the mainstream medical status quo. In today’s world, just about everything, including medicine and science, is politicized. Beligerance is not what this doctor is about. He has taken time to review the best medical facts and data available and come to a decision that reflects his training, reasoning, and ability to logically process data. This is how medicine is supposed to be practiced. Not by using scare tactics based on political choices.

    • But what about the doctors that were threatened with losing their practice because they didn’t play along? These doctors deserve a public apology at the very least. And when will the FDA release the numbers of people that had bad side effects or died after getting the shot. That would really piss people off.

  9. With Dr Fauci in charge, many Doctors would not come out against him as he held the purse strings to
    millions of dollars for their research labs and hospitals. Of course Dr. Fauci came out well , 5 million richer from his dictatorship over the American people. The damage he did to Americans is beyond the pale.

  10. The higher ups in the medical community were responsible for many deaths & financial hardships to the general public during the plannedemic. Many good doctors and healthcare workers were threatened with termination of employment, or worse, loss of their credentials if they did not tow the official Covid narrative lie. The only way that the Faucis, Birx & Zinks of the healthcare elite will be prosecuted in court is if we vote Red this November and take over Congress. Republicans have stated that they will most definitely conduct investigations into Fauci and the CDC if they win the House and Senate. Mary Peltola may have a sweet personality, but she is a Democrat and will be forced to go along with the official Democratic Party line concerning the failed Covid response and vote NO for any investigations, as will our other Democrat, Lisa Murkowski!

    • They will do anything to stop this from happening, including screwing up the election process. The truth must not be known.

    • Fishing, I believe you may be wishing instead of fishing here. While it is true that Senators Ron Johnson and Rand Paul went to the Mat for us the majority of Republicans like” Lisa” were complicent with the scammers.
      Danny was against jab mandates but never to my knowledge locked arms with Paul and Johnson. Timidity is a trait that is prevalent throughout Congress.
      Bottom line, don’t expect too much from the Republicans.

  11. Give me a break. Courage? A lot of us figured this out almost 3 years ago and we’re called idiots. Any vaccine called warped speed should give an MD pause. How many got poisoned due to his blinders?

  12. Many of our seniors 70 yrs and older remember the polio epidemic back in the 40-‘s and 50’s and many quickly associated this covid “scam” like another Polio epidemic. Yes, we also must understand the elderly were more vulnerable by this and were more quickly to assume the worst. Thanks to many, I was not “dupped” as I am in that age group.

  13. If you are red, don’t hold your breath. We were told that there were 1,000 lawyers in place to assure a honest election, right.
    What’s being done to assure this election is not corrupted? Oh that’s right it the Murkowski ranked choice voting!
    11,000 votes tossed last election because we only voted for 1 person. Sorry a little off subject!

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