On December 4, 2022, AP news reported that the Secretary of Defense, Lloyd Austin, is refusing to consider rescinding the Covid-19 vaccine mandate. In recent days, Republicans in Congress and the Senate have pushed back on the mandate, citing harm it has done to recruiting and retention in the military. Worse, the military has fallen short of recruiting goals by the tune of tens of thousands. Republicans have threatened to hold the passage of the Defense spending bill until the White House directs the vaccine to be ended. White House spokespersons said the Commander in Chief was considering the issue.
SECDEF, Austin, however, has doubled down on the vaccine mandate. ““I’m the guy” who ordered the military to require the vaccine, Austin added. “I support continuation of vaccinating the troops.”” Austin triumphantly declared that “A million people died in the United States of America. We lost hundreds in DoD. So, this mandate has kept people healthy.”
Austin, a 1975 graduate of the United States Military Academy, has strayed far from his ethical roots. To date, 96 active-duty deaths have been attributed to Covid-19 since the pandemic began. This figure has not changed in the past 4 months. Less than 10 have died of Covid in the past year. The vast majority of deaths in the 690 figure he likely refers to includes contractors, dependents, and civilian DoD employees. According to the CDC, less that 0.3% of covid deaths have occurred in Americans 24 and under. The average age of US military servicemembers is 23. The DoD has repeatedly made covid statistics by age and comorbidity unavailable, likely to mask the truth that nearly all of the 96 deaths that did occur were in personnel with multiple co-morbidities and that were way over 24 years of age.
Not surprisingly, 0 cadets at any service academies have died from Covid-19. Yet, just last week, following Austin’s vindictive guidance, LTG Gilland (USMA Superintendent) gave 5 general officer letters of reprimand to 5 West Point cadets who refused the vaccine on religious grounds. All 5 face separation any day. Covid-19 is not a threat to the vast majority of DoD active-duty personnel, particularly the young Americans sorely needed as recruits.
The vaccine does not protect against Covid-19. In a famous trial in January 2022 at the height of Omicron, 27% of vaccinated and boosted NBA players still contracted Covid-19 despite vaccines, boosters, and daily Covid-19 testing of the NBA workforce to isolate infected personnel. Keep in mind the average age of NBA players is nearly a decade older than US military members’ average age. SECDEF Austin, famously vaccinated and boosted, has contracted Covid-19 twice in 2022 so far. Worse, since April 2022, the majority of deaths from Covid-19 have occurred in vaccinated Americans.
SECDEF Austin is equivocating on the truth. If he had done that as a cadet, he would have been kicked out of West Point by the Honor Committee. In addition to setting poor ethical examples for DoD, he is a poor physical example as well. Overweight Austin daily shows that he doesn’t care about the science of what actually does cause Covid-19 disability – obesity and poor health. Since early 2020 it was well known by physicians that advanced age, obesity, and co-morbidities were the biggest risk factors for age. SECDEF Austin is not manifesting any form of leadership. He should apologize for his mistake, take a math course to understand simple mathematics better, end the mandate, and buy a treadmill or join a gym.
John Hughes, MD
Veteran of Iraq/Afghanistan
Member of www.starrs.su