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Appeasing Anti-Vaxxers

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As the ongoing pandemic obviously causes immense harms, there are correspondingly immense benefits to vaccinating people sooner. Our actual policies have failed at this in a number of ways (from failing to encourage experimental vaccination, to gratuitous delays in approving successful vaccines even after the trial data were received). Now some countries are suspending use of the AZ vaccine due to (poorly-grounded) fears about rare side-effects, seemingly oblivious to the fact that there's a much more serious (and high-probability) "side-effect" to non-vaccination, namely, COVID-19.   This all seems bad enough, on straightforwardly utilitarian grounds.  But I now want to argue that it's even worse than that: even if these delays did some good, by reassuring the vaccine-fearful, they would still be wrong.To see this most vividly, focus on some particular individual -- call her Sophia -- who dies from Covid as a result of being deprived of early access to a vaccine that she strongly (and reasonably) wished to take.  (I take it to be obvious that there will be many such individuals as a matter of fact.)  Her government's obstructionism is then causally responsible for her death: had they not blocked her access to the vaccine, she would have survived.  Moreover, it's entirely foreseeable that people will die as a result of such policies, so it further seems that the government is morally responsible for her death.  They have, in effect, indirectly killed her (and others), by blocking her (and others') access to life-saving vaccines.Now suppose that someone seeks to defend the obstructionist policy by arguing that it helps to reassure fearful members of society that the vaccines have been scrupulously investigated and are safe for them to (eventually) use.  It strikes me as empirically implausible that this benefit to public acceptance of vaccines would be sufficiently great to outweigh the harms of a slower. . .

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