Dr. Michael Lederman was the lead author of an opinion column proposing that not only should COVID-19 vaccines be mandatory, but there should be “severe penalties” for “non-compliance.” Now the story is going viral and many people have taken to social media to debate what he and two other authors wrote.
1. The Column Proposes Mandatory Vaccines, Registrations & Severe Penalties for ‘Non-Compliance’
Lederman, along with Maxwell J. Mehlman and Dr. Stuart Youngner, wrote the opinion column for USA Today. The column included a proposal that COVID-19 vaccines be not only free, but mandatory, allowing exemptions only for medical issues that would be “rare” because of the different types of vaccines in development. The column went on to propose not honoring any religious exemptions or personal preference objections.
Beyond requiring a vaccine, the article also proposed that the federal government should take away tax credits or non-essential government benefits for people who don’t get vaccines, impose higher health insurance premiums, and allow private businesses to “refuse to employ or serve unvaccinated individuals.” The article went on to suggest requiring immunization evidence for entry in public or private auditoriums.
The article notes: ” The only legal limitation on government or private action is that it not be discriminatory, and it’s hard to see how discrimination would occur if vaccinations were free and accessible to all.”
The article then goes on to suggest a “registry” of immunizations that are “date-stamped” and may expire, requiring boosters.
Because Lederman was the lead author and the only one whose Twitter account was listed at the end of the story, many people have focused their tweets and responses to the article at him.
One person wrote to Lederman and said: “perhaps if gov and pharma were actually truthful about side effects both short term and long term there may not be such apprehension? If there will be “consequences” for those who opt out, will gov/pharma be held responsible for illnesses and deaths they cause?”
Lederman responded that there must be compensation for anyone injured by a vaccine, but those injuries “are expected to be few.”
Other people tweeted their displeasure too. Joleen Brown wrote, “Not everyone can take all vaccines so to make it mandatory without long term studies is wrong . You’re an immunologist you know this!”
Gerald D.W. North wrote: “You can have all of that if you move to China. Meanwhile, you will have to contend with constitutional lawyers like me.”
Christine Hawkins wrote: “Are you freaking kidding me? Mandatory?! Oh hell no!! This vaccine won’t be tested for long term side effects and if god forbid you should get one, you do know that the manufacturer can’t be sued for damages, right? No thanks!!!’
2. In January 2019, He Suggested Suing People Who Aren’t Vaccinated & Making Vaccines a Pre-Requisite for Health Insurance
This isn’t the first time that Lederman has proposed mandatory vaccines with penalties for not getting them. Lederman proposed something similar in January 2019, even before COVID-19 existed.
He tweeted then, in what is a pinned tweet: “Docs may chose to protect their patients by keeping antivaxers from their practices. immunization could be a prerequisite for health insurance. Unvaccinated transmitters of preventable infections could be sued by individuals and communities who acquire them.” [sic]
3. He’s a Professor of Medicine & an Infectious Disease Specialist Who Devoted Much of His Career to AIDS & HIV Research
Lederman is a professor of medicine at Case Western University School of Medicine in Cleveland, Ohio. He wrote the article with Mehlman, who’s a professor of law at Case Western University School of Law, and Youngner, who is a professor of bioethics at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine.
According to his bio at Case Western, he’s a professor in multiple departments, including Pathology, Bioethics, Molecular Biology and Microbiology, and more. His bio with U.S. News notes that he’s an infectious disease specialist.
He’s also the co-director of the Division of Infectious Diseases & HIV Medicine at the Center for AIDS Research, School of Medicine, and a member of the Cancer Prevention Control & Population Research Program at Case. He’s also the principal investigator at the CWRU/UHC AIDS Clinical Trials Unit.
He joined Case Western’s faculty in 1980 and has numerous publications. He has a bachelor’s in biology from Brandeis University and an MD from Mt. Sinai School of Medicine.
On Vitals, Lederman has a 3-star review from three patients. One of those was a one-star review from someone angry about his column in USA Today.
Lederman has devoted much of his career to HIV and AIDS research. In 1983, he was part of the group who first characterized AIDS in healthy men with hemophilia in 1983, according to his bio. He has also authored more than 300 peer-reviewed publications exploring the way HIV induces immune deficiency and how to prevent this. He established the AIDS Clinical Trials Unit at Case in 1987.
He’s the co-director of the Division of Infectious Diseases & HIV Medicine at the Center for AIDS Research, School of Medicine, and a member of the Cancer Prevention Control & Population Research Program at Case. He’s also the principal investigator at the CWRU/UHC AIDS Clinical Trials Unit.
In June 2019, Case Western Reserve University and University Hospitals Case Medical Center were awarded $12.7 million from the National Institutes of Health in funding for HIV/AIDS research.
4. He Said He Blames Trump for the Pandemic
In a tweet on July 30, Lederman said that he blames Trump for the pandemic getting out of hand in the United States.
He wrote: “Ashamed and angry that the most robust scientific environment in the world was betrayed by an inept and fraudulent leadership and a fractured national health care infrastructure. I blame Trump for this pandemic Covid catastrophe.”
He also tweeted about missing President Barack Obama.
When Madonna praised Dr. Stella Immanuel, Lederman tweeted: “Why would anyone pay attention to an aging entertainer’ s ideas about their health? It’s like asking me how to fix their car.”
And he referred to Trump as starting a war on America.
He also tweets updates about COVID-19 research.
5. He Created an Electronic Open Access Journal
Lederman created an electronic open access journal called Pathogens and Immunity (P&I(1)). In an interview with The Forum for Collaborative Research, he said that he became a publisher because of “general frustration with the complexity of the current biomedical publications enterprise.”
The goal of the journal, he said, is to “establish a journal that serves the interests and needs of researchers. Our first objective is to simplify the submissions and review process and I think we’ve established procedures that have done that. We are looking for interesting submissions and are hoping that our approach will resonate with the scientific community.”
In February 2018, he tweeted that the journal is free, open access, charges no fees to authors and pays reviewers for rapid reviews.