An Urgent Warning to Rutgers University: On A Potential Safety Hazard and Liability In Your COVID-19 Vaccine Mandate

Rutgers University president, Jonathan Holloway, must protect the naturally infected subset of the Rutgers student body from indiscriminate COVID-19 vaccination — the risk of liability is not insignificant.

Dear President Holloway and Colleagues,

Today, the New York Times and other outlets have reported that Rutgers University is the first college to mandate COVID-19 vaccination.

While I fully agree with your policy of maximal immunity for all students and faculty attending in-person on the Rutgers campuses, you must also remain 100% cognizant of a potential danger of indiscriminate vaccination to some of your students. This potential danger is not only a safety risk, it would also pose a risk of liability to your University.

Please let me explain.

As you know, many young persons across America have already contracted COVID-19 and as a result most such persons are naturally immune. The proportion of the recently infected on any given college campus could be as high as 30–40% of the student body. Natural immunity in such persons can be easily assessed by screening individuals for the presence of IgG antibodies against SARS-CoV-2 Spike and Nucleocapsid proteins. These tests are simple and easy to obtain at this juncture in time. And some experts believe that natural immunity may even be more robust than vaccine immunity — but at least equally effective in the vast majority of those naturally infected.

As a physician and immunologist, I would suggest that it is critical that you quickly amend Rutgers’ mandate to provide vaccine exemptions to those persons who are naturally infected — in the interest of your students’ safety, as well as institutional liability protection. I state this for two reasons:

  1. Vaccinating those who are naturally immune, as evidence by the presence of blood IgG antibodies against SARS-CoV-2, is an unnecessary medical procedure with inherent risks that are avoidable precisely given that it is unnecessary such persons.
  2. There is a very likely immunological possibility that indiscriminately vaccinating persons with recent COVID-19 infections poses a risk of clinical harm to recently infected persons. There have been some very prominent young deaths following vaccination — and it is becoming clear that adverse event rates are higher in the previously infected.

The first point should be self-explanatory to you, Rutgers ought not mandate unnecessary medical practices in its student body.

The second point is an immunological safety prognostication, which FDA leaders have been warned about and acknowledge understanding. Please read the warning to FDA HERE. Briefly, any persons with a recent or occult SARS-CoV-2 infection are highly likely to be at an increased risk of adverse events and immunological harm from indiscriminate vaccination. In fact, level 3 data and some powerful anecdotes of death are emerging from around the nation and the world.

Rutgers University’s leadership ought not put policies in place that would cause its student body to undergo unnecessary medical treatments. Certainly the Rutgers University administration is duty bound to protect its student body from all risks of harm — both material and prognosticated ones.

My respectful suggestion, given the relatively high incidence of natural infection in college aged persons is that you adopt the policy of #ScreenB4Vaccine — and provide your student body exemptions in cases where natural immunity can be demonstrated using a blood IgG test.

Be advised, indiscriminate vaccination of the already infected subset of your student body and faculty is an unnecessary medical therapy that poses a potential risk of avoidable injury. As such mandating indiscriminate vaccination as a precondition to attending college poses a risk to your students and exposes the University to potential liability.

Finally, I am sure that you have considered that requiring vaccination, especially in the already naturally immune, as a pre-condition for in-person education on campus is very likely to represent a discriminatory practice and an impingement on such persons’ constitutional rights in the US. I ask that you also carefully consider this legalistic point in relation to your vaccine mandate as it pertains to the naturally immune members of your community.

I write this message of warning to your in friendship and in hopes that you will grasp the critical reasoning I have expressed, as our nation reaches for effective and safe herd immunity on all college campuses.

With respect,

Hooman Noorchashm MD, PhD

Hooman Noorchashm MD, PhD is a physician-scientist. He is an advocate for ethics, patient safety and women’s health. He and his 6 children live in Pennsylvania.