If you were in charge of the policy, what would the policy be, what tools would you employ?”

Dr. Vinay Prasad, Plenary Session Podcast, February 2021 at 1:36:10

Thank you for this vital question. Throughout the pandemic, I worked tirelessly from my living room describing all the amazing things I would have done, had I actually done anything. I gave TV interviews. I wrote newspaper editorials. I recorded podcasts. I Tweeted. I blogged. I made YouTube videos. I made a movie about myself. I write it about daily, and I also have a book coming out. I even wrote a Declaration, which was over 500 words-long! Sadly, the people who actually did things this pandemic caused incalculable damage by utterly failing to do what I would have done.

I would have identified “vulnerable” and “not vulnerable” people and I would have created an impenetrable wall between them. While the virus raged in the world of the not vulnerable, I would have protected the vulnerable in a hermetically sealed bubble. Obviously, I would have protected all 26,500 nursing homes in March 2020. I would have used very draconian measures in nursing homes, so repeated testing, draconian hygiene (listen at 1:36:20). Unfortunately, they failed to implement these draconian measures, as I would have done, which astounded me. I could not imagine that despite the Italian and Washington state experience, nursing homes were still unprotected.

The frequently asked question section of my Declaration listed all the amazing things I would have done. Not only is it really impressive, public health officials could have easily done it all. As I said at the time, a comprehensive and detailed list of measures, including approaches to multi-generational households, can be implemented, and is well within the scope and capability of public health professionals.  

I would have offered older people home delivery of groceries and other essentials. We could have offered free DoorDash to older peopleI would have used empty hotel rooms for temporary housing for seniors living in multigenerational homes. I would have made testing available for relatives and friends who want to visit. I would have provided funding for older workers to take a 3 to 6-month sabbatical. I would have passed workplace disability laws that required employers to provide reasonable accommodations to protect high-risk workers. I would have monitored disease transmission at the local level and continuously communicated this to the public. I would have done this in a nuanced way that did not induce panic but instead provided the basis for an accurate assessment of each person’s risk based on their age and comorbid conditions. 

Public health officials, however, did not do these very simple things, all of which were well within their scope and capability. It’s their fault for not actually doing what I would have done. I told them exactly what to do! It was a failure of imagination on the part of public health, and so today I am left to wonder why didn’t they just protect the vulnerable and get on with life?

Once I protected the vulnerable, I would have opened schools, and they could have functioned totally normally and everything would have been just fine for everyone. Teachers and students had virtually no risk. Teachers were actually at lower risk of COVID than the population of other workers at large. Being around kids actually protected them, in some sense, because the kids are not super-spreaders. Children have virtually zero risk of getting a serious complication, virtually a zero risk of dying. Children only rarely if ever transmit the disease. It’s not like schools ever closed due to because they were “drowning in COVID” or anything.

Whether on podcasts, editorials, or social media, no one said the words “open schools” more than me, and I am extremely proud of this valuable contribution. I even spread this message and said kids need a real champion on the website of a man who said smoking is very cool and enjoyable for teens and that they should drop out of school to work at Chick-Fil-A and Walmart.

You see, with schools open and COVID spreading uncontrollably, children could have enjoyed the triumph of natural immunity. Yes, natural immunity is a triumph! Infected children have strong natural immunity that protects them from covid infections as they get older. Thanks to the triumph of natural immunity, if 250 million not vulnerable Americans had contracted COVID simultaneously at the end of 2020, the pandemic would have been naturally over in 3-6 months. That’s right, if they listened to me we could have had herd immunity by April 2021 at the latest. The pandemic would have been over! Sadly, they didn’t do all the things I would have done, and so here we are in 2024, with 1,500 Americans still dying of COVID every week.  

I am a realist above all. I am under no illusion I could have protected everyone. No matter what, some people still would have wound up in the hospital. Unfortunately many people died there because treatments and medical care were suboptimal and harmful. We even lost a lot of lives because frontline doctors were not knowing how to use mechanical ventilation, just going crazy, and intubating people who did not have to be intubated. If I worked in a hospital, I wouldn’t have gone crazy. I would have known exactly what to do. I would have saved so many lives.

Of course, COVID alone was not to blame for most of the deaths. What really caused millions of “COVID” deaths was social injustice, inequalities, racism, poverty, smoking, and other modifiable risks factors/lifestyle (e.g., see obesity). Why they didn’t just modify these modifiable risks in March 2020? That’s what I would have done. In contrast, throughout the pandemic, the medical establishment never talked about Covid’s leading modifiable risk factor—obesity. Never, not even once! People even died from lack of vaccination. I would developed better vaccines faster, and I would have convinced everyone to take them.

It’s an abomination that our standards for medical evidence became so degraded during the pandemic. I would have done a randomized-controlled trial (RCT) for literally everything. Making lists of potential RCTs is much harder than actually doing RCTs, and I am extremely proud of my many YouTube videos, where I described all the RCTs I would have done.

For example, you could have run many cluster RCTs of different masking strategies. You also could have have done RCTs of hospital visiting policies, SARS-CoV-2 testing, ventilation, social distancing, as well as for every proposed COVID treatment. More than could— we should do these trials, we ought to do them, and we must do them. Yes, WE must do them, and my role with these trials is just to them dream up, no more. There are smart people in positions of power with resources that can design and conduct such studies. Unfortunately, these smart people in positions of power chose not to do all the RCTs I dreamt up.

Naturally, I would have done an RCT for every vaccine dose for every variant for every imaginable subgroup and demographic. My RCTs would have been large enough to determine if the vaccine prevented hospitalizations and deaths, and they would have been completed fast enough to remain relevant before new variants arrived. You could run human trials of bivalent boosters measuring severe disease. Predictably, they did not do this, and so I now feel the CDC employees responsible adding COVID19 vaccines to the pediatric schedule should be fired.

Instead of doing the things I would have done, people with real-world responsibility muzzled me and called me “fringe“. We could have emerged with many fewer deaths and with minimal disruption to our schools, economy, and social networks, if only they listened to me and all the incredible, wonderful things I would have done, had I actually done anything. Ultimately, they failed us, and we are left without answers and policies that caused significant harm.



  • Dr. Jonathan Howard is a neurologist and psychiatrist who has been interested in vaccines since long before COVID-19. He is the author of "We Want Them Infected: How the failed quest for herd immunity led doctors to embrace the anti-vaccine movement and blinded Americans to the threat of COVID."

Posted by Jonathan Howard

Dr. Jonathan Howard is a neurologist and psychiatrist who has been interested in vaccines since long before COVID-19. He is the author of "We Want Them Infected: How the failed quest for herd immunity led doctors to embrace the anti-vaccine movement and blinded Americans to the threat of COVID."