In revoking Novak Djokovic’s visa for refusing the COVID vaccine after fully recovering from the virus just last month, Australia has abandoned the science of immunology.
Australia has a renowned and glorious history in immunological science. In fact, I would go as far as to say that if there is an immunological “city on the hill,” it was Australia.
From the storied Walter and Eliza Hall Institute to the Garvan Institute, to prominent Australian Nobel laureates and founding fathers of immunological science (Sir Macfarlane Burnett, Jacques F.P. Miller and Peter Doherty) to contemporary leaders of immunological science (Jonathan Sprent, Christopher Goodnow and Jason Cyster), Australia has been known as the mecca of immunological thinking and science.
So it is simply shocking to see the nation’s government behaving in such an immunologically ill-informed and authoritarian fashion when it comes to its handling of COVID immunity.
The recent deportation of the world’s top-ranked men’s tennis player, Novak Djokovic, from Australia for refusing a mandated vaccine he did not need and could be harmed by, was shocking to me as an immunologist.
Why? Because I know with definitive certainty Djokovic, who recovered from a COVID infection in December 2021, has quite powerful and robust acquired natural immunity to COVID — equivalent, if not more powerful than that attained from full vaccination and boosters.
In other words, the recently COVID-recovered Djokovic posed almost zero risk to himself or anyone in Australia — yet that liberal western democratic government condescended itself into terrible authoritarianism, irrationally and unethically excluding an international champion from one of tennis’ most prestigious events — the Australian Open. How deplorable!
Any immunologist worth his or her salt knows the most unusual aspect of the global COVID vaccine campaign is that the vaccine is being deployed on a mass scale in the midst of a pandemic outbreak, when many are already infected — either recently or at the time of their vaccination.
This indiscriminate public health campaign is dangerous. Not only does it expose many millions of already immune people to the risk of unnecessary medical treatment, but it also poses a serious risk of harm to recently infected or convalescent persons, in whom viral antigenic epitopes still persist, and in whom an unnecessary vaccination could induce a hyper-inflammatory response.
That prominent immunologists — especially the contemporary Australian pioneers in immunology — are either unaware of or silent about how our scientific discipline of immunology is being corrupted and abused by governments around the world so they can impose draconian mass mandates upon millions of persons with acquired “natural” or “hybrid” immunity has been frankly disappointing and shocking to me.
But I suppose all heroes have clay feet — and even careful thinkers can think carelessly sometimes.
Still, it is shocking to hear crickets from the giants of the world of immunology — especially those from Australia, which truly is the birthplace of modern immunology — when it comes to the topic of mandated vaccination of the already well immune and recently infected.
What a terrible sign of our time — when neither science and reason nor ethics and the western defense of individuality matter any longer in the face of irrational fear and government edicts.
Djokovic’s irrational and unethical deportation from Australia is a stain on the reputation of the many prominent Aussie immunologists and storied immunological institutes in that country.
The government override of the principles of immunological science and medical ethics, in order to achieve population-level compliance, while the western heroes of immunological science stay silent spells disaster for the integrity of western civilizations and self-governing democracies.
Shame on the Australian government for irrationally deporting Djokovic. And woe onto those prominent expert Australians and Aussie institutions, who actually know better but have chosen not to speak up for the sake of political expediency or personal comfort.
It is, indeed, easier not to rock the boat and not to speak up, than it is to stand in the way of unethical authoritarian conduct by a powerful democratic government gone astray.
But that slope is a slippery one and we are all sliding down it. All it takes for a great evil to take hold is for a few good men to remain silent and not speak their truth.
Hooman Noorchashm M.D., Ph.D. is a physician-scientist. He is an advocate for ethics, patient safety and women’s health.