The Psychological Cruelty of Denying Natural Immunity
Every sick child, and probably every adult at some point, asks that existential question: why am I suffering?
No answer is satisfying. To be sick is to feel vulnerable, weak, not in control, not in the game. Life is chugging along outside of your room. You can hear laughter, cars going here and there, people out and about. But you are stuck, shivering under blankets, appetite disrupted and struggling to remember what it was like to feel healthy.
With fever, all of this is worse because the capacity for one’s brain to process information with full rationality is deprecated. High fever can induce a form of brief insanity, even involving hallucinations. You imagine things that are not true. You know that but can’t shake it off. The fever breaks and you find yourself in a pool of sweat, and your hope is that somewhere in this mess the bug has left you.
For children, it is a scary experience. For adults too, when it lasts long enough.
From the depths of the suffering, people naturally look for a source of hope. When is recovery? And what can I expect once that happens? Where is the meaning and the purpose behind the ordeal?
For a conventional respiratory virus, and for many other pathogens, generations have known that there is a silver lining to the suffering. Your immune system has undergone a training exercise. It is encoding new information. That is information your body can use to be healthier in the future. It is now prepared to fight off a similar pathogen in the future.
From the depths of suffering, this realization provides that much-needed source of hope. You can look forward to a better, healthier life on the other side. You will now confront the world with a shield. That dangerous dance with pathogens has been won for at least this particular virus. You can enjoy a stronger and healthier you in the future.
For generations, people understood this. Particularly in the 20th century, when knowledge of natural immunity became more sophisticated, along with the documentation of herd immunity, this became culturally entrenched.
Speaking from personal experience, my own parents were constantly explaining this to me when I was young. When I was sick, it became my essential source of hope. This was crucial for me, as I was an unusually sickly child. To know that I could become stronger and live more normally was a blessing.
Nothing made the point more prescient than my bout with chicken pox. To wake with itchy red spots all over me threw me into panic at the age of 6 or 7. But when I saw the smiles on my parents’ faces, I relaxed. They explained that this is a normal sickness that I absolutely needed to get as a young person. I could then get a lifetime of immunity.
It is far less dangerous to get it when you are young, they explained. Don’t scratch the sores. Just endure it and it will be over soon. I will have done my duty to myself.
That was a striking education for me. It was my introduction to the reality of natural immunity. I learned not only about this one sickness but all kinds of viruses. I learned that there is a plus side, a silver lining, to my suffering. It created the conditions that led to a better life.
Culturally, this was considered to be a modern way to think, a mental awareness that enabled generations not to give up hope but rather to look to the future with confidence.
From the beginning of the current pathogenic crisis, this piece has been missing. Covid has been treated as a pathogen to avoid at all costs – personal and social. No price was too high to pay to purchase avoidance. The worst possible fate would be to confront the virus. We must not live life normally, we were told. We must reorganize everything around slogans: slow the spread, flatten the curve, socially distance, mask up, regard everyone and everything as a carrier.
After two years, this is still the case in many parts of the country. Public health authorities have not recognized, must less explained natural immunity. Instead our source of hope has been the vaccine, which the authorities said would turn you into a dead end for the virus. That seemed like hope for many. Then it turned out not to be true. Hopes have been dashed and we were plunged right back where we were before.
Covid’s coverage of the country is so broad now that everyone knows one or many people who have had it. They share stories. Some are short bouts. Others last a week or longer. Nearly everyone shakes it off. Some people die from it, particularly the elderly and infirm. And this universal tactile experience has also given rise not so much to another round of panic – that is certainly there – but exhaustion and the great question: when will all this end?
It ends, as the authors of the Great Barrington Declaration said, with the arrival of population immunity. In this sense, it is like every pandemic that has come before. They swept through the population and those who recover have lasting immunity to the pathogen and probably others in the same family. This happens with or without a vaccine. It is this upgrade of the immune system that provides the way out.
And yet even now, millions of people have not been made aware of the payoff to confronting the virus. They have been denied hope that it ever will end. They simply do not know. The authorities have not told them. Yes, you can find out if you are curious and read competent opinion on the topic. Maybe your doctor has shared that view.
But when you have the leading voices in public health seeming to go out of their way to pretend that natural immunity does not exist, you are going to throttle that knowledge in the general population. The immunity passports do not recognize it. The people who are fired despite having demonstrated robust immunities know this all-too-well.
Of all the scandals and outrages of the last two years – the incredible failings of public officials and the silence of so many people who should have known better – the strange silence on acquired immunity is among the worst. It has a medical cost but also a huge cultural and psychological one.
This is not just an arcane matter of science. It is a main means by which the population can see the other side of the pandemic. For all the fear, suffering, and death, there is still hope on the other side, and we can know this because of our awareness of how the immune system works.
Take that away and you take away the possibility of the human mind to imagine a bright future. You promote despair. You create a permanent state of fear. You rob people of optimism. You create dependency and promote sadness.
No one can live this way. And we do not have to. If we know for sure that all this suffering was not for naught, the universe and its functioning seem a bit less chaotic and appears to make a greater degree of sense. We cannot live in a pathogen-free world but we can confront this world with intelligence, courage, and conviction that we can get to the other side and live even better than we did before. We do not need to give up freedom.
The people who denied us this knowledge, this confidence, have engaged in a cruel game with human psychology. What makes it worse is that they knew better. Fauci, Walensky, Birx, and all the rest, have the training and the knowledge. They are not unaware. Perhaps Gates’s ignorance is understandable but the rest of these people have actual medical training. They have always known the truth.
Why have they done this to us? To sell vaccines? To elicit compliance? To reduce us all to fearful subjects who are easier to control? I’m not sure we know the answers. It’s possible that natural immunity came to be seen by these technocrats as too primitive, too rudimentary, insufficiently technocratic, to be allowed as part of the conversation.
Regardless, it is a scandal and a tragedy with an enormous human cost. It will be generations before we see a full recovery.
That recovery can begin at least with awareness. You can examine all the studies and see for yourself how this goes. We are now up to 141 studies that demonstrate robust immunities after recovery, a much better form of immunity than can be induced from these vaccines. We should be happy for the studies but they should not have been necessary. We should have known based on prevailing science for these sorts of pathogens.
We currently confront a tragic morass. Cases are at an all-time high. There is a growing realization that nothing has worked. The loss of trust is palpable. More people now know that everyone will get this thing. There is no more hiding, no more success in “being careful,” no option but to get out there and take a risk with this thing. But what bolsters one’s confidence that doing so is worth it? The realization that you will be stronger as a result.
Take away the knowledge of natural immunity, and thus the realization that there can be a better life on the other side of sickness, and you leave people with existential emptiness and a lasting sense of despair. No one can live that way. No one should have to.
About the Author
Jeffrey A. Tucker is Founder and President of the Brownstone Institute and the author of many thousands of articles in the scholarly and popular press and ten books in 5 languages, most recently Liberty or Lockdown. He is also the editor of The Best of Mises. He speaks widely on topics of economics, technology, social philosophy, and culture. firstname.lastname@example.org