COVID Anti-Vaxxers are a Threat to National Security

Sept. 10, 2021

The excuses range from the ridiculous to almost plausible. In a world turned upside down, where science is ignored and conspiracy theories abound, the mounting crisis of COVID-19 anti-vaxxers is being viewed as a threat to national security and the survival of the healthcare systems critical infrastructure of the United States by more than one federal agency.

The past administration rolled out its Operation Warp Speed initiative that cost American taxpayers billions to develop a safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine in record time, only to be undermined by its own political agenda. Driven by the Emergency Use Authorization (EUA), the pharmaceutical industry has delivered vaccines with Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval that have proven more than 98% effective for those who have received their shots. However, a combination of relaxed community health mandates, lower mask use and nearly 50% of Americans who have still refused to be vaccinated, a newer and deadlier Delta variant has the country scrambling again despite the best efforts of the current Biden administration.

Then there is the lunatic fringe that says the vaccines can’t be trusted because they were rushed, or that Bill Gates and the pharmaceutical companies are hiding side effects brought on by microchips used in the cure. Others trust their own immune systems to keep them healthy or see themselves as just young and indestructible. There are also those claiming that the vaccine alters your DNA, or it can be “shed” from one person to another, or it is causing the variants and is already responsible for countless deaths that are not being reported. Of course, the most vocal are the politically motivated, who insist that “Liberals, Democrats, and public-health elites have been so wrong so often, we’d be better off doing the opposite of almost everything they say.”

But here is the bottom line according to a 2020 report issued by InfraGard, the national security group affiliated with the FBI: “There are serious public health ramifications and national security issues if there was a naturally occurring pandemic with a novel organism or an infectious disease outbreak due to bioterrorism. Disease transmission is now a global phenomenon because of air travel and open borders. Increasing drug resistance is also another threat (WHO 2018). In addition, the relative ease of ‘bad actors,’ such as nation-states or terrorists, to weaponize infectious agents has increased the vulnerability of the population. Reduction in mortality and morbidity by halting the spread of the organism will require both social isolation and mass vaccination.”

The InfraGard report, entitled The Anti-Vaxxers Movement and National Security was co-written by Dr. Mark Jarrett, the chief quality officer, senior vice-president and associate chief medical officer at Northwell Health; and Christine Sublett, a health industry-focused cybersecurity consultant. The indictment of the anti-vaccine movement by the authors is chilling, as they argue that sufficient resistance to vaccination would hobble the chances of reaching herd immunity to a highly infectious pathogen. Jarrett and Sublett also submit that the COVID anti-vaccine activists have received a boost in recent years due to their “alignment with other conspiracy movements including the far-right … and social media misinformation and propaganda campaigns by many foreign and domestic actors. Included among these actors is the Internet Research Agency, the Russian government-aligned organization.”

The authors trace the origins of the anti-vaxxer movement to a fringe group that has believed all vaccines are dangerous. It began with the publication of a two-decades-old and now-retracted study by David Wakefield that erroneously linked the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine (MMR) to autism (McCoy 2015). The CDC has since released many studies that show no link between autism and vaccines or that an aggressive vaccination schedule for children causes autism.

The InfraGard report warns that both natural and intentional epidemics pose a national security risk to the U.S. that can reduce food supplies, disrupt the manufacturing of goods and the vital national supply chain. The authors offer their remedy but insist it will take a bipartisan approach from leadership that is lacking in our present environment.

“Clinicians, health educators, community and religious leaders, and physicians must be part of a campaign to refute the anti-vaxxers and need to specifically reach out to communities with a high prevalence of vaccine hesitancy. We also need social media companies to continue to refine the algorithms that power their services to better distinguish quality information from deceptions or otherwise misleading information. Unfortunately, there is no guarantee that these approaches will be successful. Therefore, public health and emergency planners must now prepare for possible scenarios where herd immunity will not be a tool to control a pandemic.”

Our national security depends on it.

About the Author: Steve Lasky is a 34-year veteran of the security industry and an award-winning journalist. He is the editorial director of the Endeavor Business Media Security Group, which includes magazines Security Technology ExecutiveSecurity Business and Locksmith Ledger International and top-rated webportal Steve can be reached at [email protected]