The Nuremberg Code and COVID Vaccinations

Image Credit: Reuters

I’ve seen lots of people claim, incorrectly, that the Nuremberg Code for ethics in medical experimentation means that mandatory vaccinations for COVID are unethical and/or a human rights violation. I wrote the following rebuttal as a comment on Facebook and have posted it here. I cleaned up the links a little and added some emphasis that I couldn’t on Facebook.


1. (Voluntary consent of the human subject) Everyone who is being vaccinated is being informed of the reasons, risks, and given the opportunity to change their minds. No-one is being tied down and vaccinated against their will. Notice that the mandates were not put in place until September 9, 202021, at which point 3.3 billion people had received at least one dose and three weeks after the Pfizer vaccine had been fully approved by the FDA for people 18 and older. That’s well beyond the point at which other vaccines would have been out of the experimental phase for years. This does not apply.

2. (Yields fruitful results for the good of society) The risks of being vaccinated is much lower than the risks of catching COVID, both with respect to the risk of death as well as the risk of long term side effects/”long COVID.” The vaccines reduce risk of infection, hospitalization, and death even now, with the reduced effectiveness of the vaccines against the delta variant. And this is how all vaccines work – no vaccine prevents infection. COVID vaccines meet this standard.

3. (Experiment on animals prior to people) MRNA vaccines have been in development for 20 years at least, including experimentation on animals. And all three of the vaccines approved in the US were tested on animals before limited human testing (multiple animal models described here). COVID vaccines meet this standard.

4. (Minimize physical and mental suffering and injury) We vaccinate with shots all the time. If those are deemed “necessary physical and mental suffering and injury,” then the COVID vaccine’s level of injury and suffering is also acceptable. COVID vaccines meet this standard.

5. (Don’t conduct experiments where you expect people to die) Early human trials after animal testing found that there was very low risk of severe complications or death, and so the vaccines were allowed to move forward. There is no longer any a priori reason to believe death or disabling injury will occur, beyond the usual low risk of side effects that accompany every single medical procedure and drug that exists. If we make an unrealistic worst-case assumption that every single VAERS-claimed death in the US is actually related to vaccinations, then about 8600 people have been killed by the vaccines. That’s on the same scale as the number of people who choke to death every year (~5000). To date, not a single vaccine death has been confirmed to be due to COVID vaccines. COVID vaccines meet this standard.

6. (The risk of the experiment should not exceed the benefits) This goes back to #2 above. If the risks of the vaccine were greater than the risks of catching COVID, then this would apply. But it doesn’t. To date, the risk of death from the vaccines is zero – zero confirmed deaths from the vaccines. That compares to the 723,205 confirmed deaths from COVID as of this morning (Oct. 19, 2021). Even the unrealistic worst-case scenario from #5 above has the vaccine nearly 1000x less deadly than infection. The risk of myocarditis (inflammation of the heart muscle) from contracting COVID is about 150/100k people vs. 9/100k people who were not infected, vs. 0.6/100k people for people given the vaccine. The risks of the vaccine are orders of magnitude lower than the risks of catching COVID, and so the COVID vaccines meet this standard.

7. (Proper preparations and adequate facilities to minimize risk of injury) This is why everyone who gets a dose of the vaccine is required to stay nearby for 30 minutes after each dose. Acute, life-threatening side effects do happen rarely with the COVID vaccines, just as they do for all other vaccines, and keeping people close to where they were vaccinated ensures that emergency treatments are available immediately. This is the standard operating procedure for all vaccines these days. COVID vaccines meet this standard.

8. (Qualified and skilled people only) Qualified people is why you and I aren’t allowed to administer the vaccines to ourselves or others, only people who have been trained in how to administer the vaccine. COVID vaccines meet this standard.

9. (People should have the right to stop at any point) This isn’t applicable to a single-dose vaccine like J&J because the “experiment” is over as soon as the patient is vaccinated. For people who get a two dose Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, however, this means that no-one who got the first dose can be forced to get the second. And again, no-one is being tied down and vaccinated against their will.

10. (The people in charge must be ready to end the ) The doctors and scientists who developed the vaccines, ran the trials, approved the vaccines for EUA, and now fully approved one vaccine (Pfizer) for everyone 18 and have followed this every step of the way. This is why the FDA put the J&J vaccine on hold when the first cases of blood clots showed up and required J&J to do more assessment of their vaccine’s safety before allowing vaccinations to restart (after the risk of blood clots was shown to be about the same as sitting for a four hour plane flight – not nothing, but not high either). This is part of why it’s taken so long to get approval for children under the age of 12 – the FDA has demanded a higher standard of efficacy and safety for the kids’ vaccines than for adults. COVID vaccines meet this standard.

And all of this ignores the simple fact that all the vaccines are well out of the “medical experiment” stage at this point, with literally billions of doses administered globally.

The Nuremburg Code was adhered to the entire time that the vaccines were in development, and it’s not applicable now.

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