Science vs. medical bureaucracy

By | October 16, 2021

David Leonhardt writes:

For the 15 million Americans who have received the Johnson & Johnson Covid vaccine, the confusing messages from the federal government just keep coming.

An F.D.A. advisory panel is scheduled to vote today on whether J. & J. recipients should receive a booster shot. But the panel is not likely to vote on what seems to be the most relevant question: Should the booster shot come from one of the other vaccines — Pfizer’s or Moderna’s, which are known as mRNA vaccines — rather than a follow-up J. & J. shot?

The scientific evidence increasingly suggests that the answer is yes (as I explain below). Still, the F.D.A. panel seems likely to duck the question and rule only on whether J. & J. recipients should receive a J. & J. booster.

It is the latest example of a recurring Covid problem. Again and again, government officials have chosen to follow pre-existing bureaucratic procedures even when doing so has led to widespread public confusion and counterproductive behavior.

Officials often defend this approach by saying they merely “follow the science,” but that’s not quite accurate. When there is a conflict between scientific evidence and bureaucratic protocols, science often takes a back seat. [Continue reading…]

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