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Law professor with naturally acquired COVID immunity battles GMU’s strict vaccine mandate

A George Mason University law professor with naturally acquired immunity from COVID is fighting against his employer’s strict COVID vaccine mandate.

Antonin Scalia Law School Professor Todd Zywicki, who recovered from a bout with COVID and has blood tests showing antibodies to the virus, said he will not agree to the university’s policy that employees get the vaccine or face numerous sanctions.

“George Mason is forcing me to choose between serving my students on one hand and undergoing an unnecessary and potentially risky medical procedure on the other,” Zywicki said in a statement.

“Multiple clinical studies have shown that natural immunity provides at least as much protection against reinfection as the most effective vaccines—and unquestionably more protection than less-effective vaccines from China and elsewhere that university policy approves,” said the law professor, who has taught at GMU since 1998.

At issue is a policy that “requires all unvaccinated faculty and staff members, including those who can demonstrate natural immunity through a prior COVID-19 infection, to wear masks on campus, physically distance, and undergo frequent COVID-19 testing,” according to the New Civil Liberties Alliance, which represents Zywicki.

The policy allows administrators to strip employees who choose not to share their vaccination status of eligibility for future merit pay increases, according to the alliance, which sent a 37-page letter to university leaders demanding Zywicki be exempted.

The letter includes a lengthy statement from Zywicki’s medical doctor, who advised the professor not to get the vaccine. It also includes a joint statement from Jay Bhattacharya of Stanford and Martin Kulldorff of Harvard, who agree Zywicki should be exempt.

The two cite several studies that found those who have recovered from a COVID infection “possess immunity as robust and durable as that acquired through vaccination.”

“In Professor Zywicki’s case, there is no doubt that, based on recent measures of his antibody levels and his history of prior COVID infection, he is protected by natural immunity,” the two medical professors state.

“The existing clinical literature overwhelmingly indicates that the protection afforded to the individual and community from natural immunity is as effective and durable as the efficacy levels of the most effective vaccines to date,” they state.

“There is no good reason from the point of view of Professor Zywicki’s personal health that he should be vaccinated. At the very least, the decision should be left to Professor Zywicki and his doctors without coercion applied by the University.”

Asked to weigh in on this brewing battle, George Mason University’s press office provided a statement that did not address the Zywicki issue in particular.

“George Mason University consistently prioritizes the health and safety of the 50,000-member Mason community. The decision to expand our vaccination requirements to faculty and staff is guided by currently available medical and scientific information and the guidance issued by federal and state public health agencies,” the statement read.

“Based on this information and guidance, we believe that the steps we are taking will best protect our community and allow our students to engage in a vibrant in-person campus experience this fall,” it added.

Jenin Younes, an attorney representing Zywicki, told The College Fix via email that the situation remains in flux.

“I hope that George Mason University—and other universities across America—come to their senses and recognize that naturally acquired immunity proven by antibody testing is as robust and durable as that achieved through vaccination,” she said.

“In fact, natural immunity is better than many of the vaccines. Accordingly, students and employees alike should not be forced to subject themselves to a medically unnecessary procedure.”

MORE: UMichigan to require COVID vaccinations — even for remote workers, learners

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About the Author
College Fix contributor Tyler Hummel is a graduate from Flashpoint College Chicago and a freelance writer whose entertainment reviews have appeared at Hollywood in Toto, The Daily Wire, Rebeller Media, Legal Insurrection and Geeks Under Grace. He's the editor of the Cultural Revue blog and hosts The AntiSocial Network podcast.