The Dispatch: More from CWR...

Opinion: The return to flourishing

Now that we have passed the one year anniversary of the SARS-COV-2 pandemic, we must consider how it is that we can begin to restore the normal social functioning of our communities.

(Image: Matt Seymour/

With the advent of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines in the fight against SARS-COV-2, the time is ripe to foster a public conversation on how to return to a normal social life. This conversation will not be easy, and still faces numerous uphill strongholds. Some public health officials are claiming that returning to a normal way of life may not be feasible until 2022. Along with this has been the fact that fear is still the predominant narrative surrounding SARS-COV-2.

The crippling fear has only been further solidified through the continued use of highly restrictive NPI’s (non-pharmaceutical interventions). Whether it is lockdowns, school closures, stay-at-home orders, or reduced capacities for businesses, there is little evidence demonstrating the effectiveness of such measures in stopping the spread of the virus.

The exhausting and destructive nature of these practices can no longer be considered legitimate options. While there continue to be unknowns about the virus, we should at least affirm what we already know. The pre-SARS-COV-2 scientific tradition on restrictive and prolonged mitigations is rather clear on this. In a 2006 journal article, “Disease Mitigation Measures in the Control of Pandemic Influenza,” the authors offered the following judgment regarding restrictive measures in a pandemic, and their connection to human flourishing:“Experience has shown that communities faced with epidemics or other adverse events respond best and with the least anxiety when the normal social functioning of the community is least disrupted.”

Now that we have passed the one year anniversary of the SARS-COV-2 pandemic, we must consider how it is that we can begin to restore the normal social functioning of our communities. It is in this light that I will offer the following proposals.

First, those who have positive antibodies should be strongly encouraged to return to a normal social life. The natural immunity from other coronaviruses such as SARS and MERS, which are similar to SARS-COV-2, reveals that the duration of the antibodies lasts around 1-3 years. While there is still a level of uncertainty regarding the strength of the antibodies, there is growing evidence suggesting that the antibodies for SARS-COV-2 are likely to be long-lasting. In light of these findings, such individuals with antibodies to the virus ought to be advised to recover a normal life. In particular, those who have the antibodies for SARS-COV-2 should be told that they would no longer need to wear a mask, nor should they need to continue practicing social distance measures.

This first proposal would be a sign that we are using the best of what we know about immunity and its relationship to SARS-COV-2. Typically, when someone is exposed to SARS-COV-2, they and those around them will self-quarantine for up to two weeks. Once the quarantine ends, these individuals will then look to have one or more PCR tests that come back negative. While there is certainly merit to this protocol, it also seems to be a rather unfruitful practice at this stage of the pandemic. Numerous seroprevalence studies of SARS-COV-2 have shown that the number of people who have actually been infected is roughly ten times higher than reported cases claim.

In addition to those who have the antibodies, we should be encouraging those who have received a vaccine to return to a real level of normalcy. Much of the societal conversation around lockdowns, or individuals who were limiting their public presence more generally, was centered around the feeling of safety that a vaccine would provide. Citizens would feel less anxious and be willing to live in society again once a vaccine was safely developed. The vaccine has arrived, with millions of people already having received one, and there seems to be almost no noticeable change in practices or beliefs.

If the vaccine is supposed to enable us to return to a more normal way of life, how is it still the case that fear has barely abated? It does not seem to be the case that, as more people get vaccinated, the safer people will feel. This narrative must change.

Finally, there needs to be greater emphasis upon the fundamental role that increased immune and metabolic health plays in fighting against this virus. Initially, our primary concern was that of protecting our hospital systems so that they would not be overrun. And now, we are hyper-focused on restrictive measures so that fewer and fewer people will ever become infected with SARS-COV-2.

Instead of fear, our dialectical framework must shift towards what individuals and communities can do to increase the best defense they have against viruses, namely, their own immune system. We could, for example, encourage and educate citizens on the prophylaxis and early outpatient protocol treatment offered by a group of physicians in the Front Line Covid-19 Critical Care Alliance. These physicians continue to highlight the substantive research showing the protective and enduring capacity of taking a daily regimen of Zinc, and Vitamins D and C in the fight against SARS-COV-2. Additionally, as Dr. Mark Gordon has recently argued, there appears to be good evidence of coupling Quercetin with Zinc as a powerful agent for enabling Zinc to penetrate the cells to kill the virus.

This focus point, along with eating foods that help decrease inflammation in the body, also allows us to see the potential for the current vaccines in their proper light. Due to the intensity and duration of the present societal restrictions, it is a natural effect to believe that a vaccine will ultimately be the antidote. And yet, to borrow a phrase from the political philosopher Joshua Mitchell, a vaccine is a supplement, and not a substitute, for health. Vaccines can certainly be effective, especially for those who are extremely vulnerable.

At the same time, exaggerating a vaccine’s impact not only undermines public trust. Simultaneously, it provides a narrative wherein individuals begin to conceive of health as the highest good, which ought to be protected at all costs, no matter the outcome.

The proposals offered here are simply a starting point. More creative alternatives to lockdowns and restrictive mitigations must be pursued, and quickly. What is at stake here is not whether we should do what is reasonably possible to protect those who are most vulnerable. The deeper question is whether a truthful account of human flourishing can merely be reduced to safety. Matthew Crawford puts this issue in a focused light: “the safer we become, the more intolerable any remaining risk appears”. In this light, the more we cling to safetyism, the more certain we will prevent ourselves from returning to the normal functioning of our common lives. We should be ready, and willing, to reject this debilitating worldview. Our happiness and flourishing is at stake.

If you value the news and views Catholic World Report provides, please consider donating to support our efforts. Your contribution will help us continue to make CWR available to all readers worldwide for free, without a subscription. Thank you for your generosity!

Click here for more information on donating to CWR. Click here to sign up for our newsletter.

About Brian Jones 34 Articles
Brian Jones is a Ph.D Candidate in Philosophy at the University of St. Thomas in Houston. His works have appeared in The Public Discourse, Strong Towns, and The American Conservative.


  1. This article contains an awful lot of what used to be called prudential judgment and common sense. The only problem is that our current culture is almost totally bereft of common sense. We live in an increasingly totalitarian society where government and its agents do the thinking for us. Individual rationality and expressions of common sense are not only frowned upon but actively opposed. The Biden’s, Pelosi’s and the Cuomo’s will do your thinking for you.

    The basic principle operative in our society and in the West generally is: power trumps reason.

  2. I disagree with your proposals. Stop medical discrimination. There is nothing different about this virus. Nothing. Other than the politics surrounding it. If I choose not to submit to testing of antibodies, I should should wear a mask indefinitely. If I choose not to get an experimental vaccine, I can’t return to normal? If my family members fall into a group that’ cannot receive the vaccine, we should stay home forever? Viruses are all over and around us. We risk our lives walking out the door everyday. It is what it means to be alive. I’ll take that risk, but I won’t take that shot!

    • As for the urge for everyone to start self-medicating, millions upon millions are already on assorted medications where intake of extra D2, Zinc, etc, could and would prove fatal.

      And once everyone tries to buy those, their availability will become same as truly prophilactic N95 respirators, essentially zero. Every time I turn around, somebody is inciting a run on the market which is ill prepared to deal with the sudden demand. N95s are a perfect example. Factories were shut down to most efficient use, running 24/7 to meet normal demand for fiber goods, and overwhelmed by panic buying. Toilet paper, anyone? Mask production shifted largely overseas, and them also overwhelmed. When a factory is already running 100% capacity, there is NO ramping up.

      The only fix is new factories which then must close when demand drops. Same with dietary suppliments. Sell THAT to factory owners, “We want YOU incur enormous expense risking bankruptcy to provide a product which will no longer be wanted by the time you finish building and production goes online.”

  3. My area has been a wonderful testbed for evaluating all the various theories, and I have tracked daily infections reported and done weekly per-day averages since it hit .

    We initially had closures and everyone to stay home, and had only a handful of local cases totalling only circa 20.

    Then, a mask mandate for town was enacted while none for the surrounding county, and we reopened both city and county.

    The city WITH mask mandate and less than half the total county population typically accounts for 2/3rds to 3/4s of the total county infection numbers, and meanwhile both city and county now have well over 100 TIMES as many cases as we had during the stay home/stay away from others phase.

    It is clear the imitation masks are not helping a bit (real N95+ replaced after each use a different matter entire). The city currently sits at now 1 in every 4.8 people have officially tested positive.

    IF the case for infected folk undetected were 10 times higher than official numbers, we should have reached herd immunity looong ago and seen a drop in cases. But, we have not.

    Instead, we essentially have mirrored state and national rates with a huge surge beginning Nov and only now end of Jan showing a marked decline, going from all time daily infections 3 and 4 weeks ago, to half that the following week, and again half THAT this week.

    We MIGHT be showing some herd immunity effects NOW, but that remains to be seen. But clearly, if undetected case numbers are large, they certainly are no 10-fold over official figures. IF we continue this decline, it would more indicate maybe 2-3 undetected for every detected case, and again, even THAT can only be inferred by yet further declines which have yet to even happen.

  4. If we believe this all the enormous deliberations are moot.
    Are the Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines developed using fetal cell lines? Pfizer…
    “In terms of the moral principles of
    being concerned about the use of any
    pharmaceuticals that were developed
    from aborted fetuses, that is certainly
    an issue that we all want to be
    cognizant of and try to avoid their
    use. With that in mind, the Pfizer and
    Moderna COVID vaccines that are
    coming out are not even tainted with
    that moral problem.“
    Notice the use of “tainted”.

  5. Both of those are TESTED using fetal cell lines, but not developed FROM fetal cell lines, and a distinction lost on my conscience and morals.

    If someone offered me a replacement leg harvested and replicated from an executed convict 50yrs after their killing, or offered me a replacement leg grown from a sheep udder, but tested on the replicated dead convict 50yrs after the killing, I would call both to be horrors straight out of fiction. This all quite apart from the billions of animals bred and slaughtered in the name of science as well as nutrition. We truly read more as the Martians from War Of The Worlds living off blood of captives, and we should be better than that.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

All comments posted at Catholic World Report are moderated. While vigorous debate is welcome and encouraged, please note that in the interest of maintaining a civilized and helpful level of discussion, comments containing obscene language or personal attacks—or those that are deemed by the editors to be needlessly combative or inflammatory—will not be published. Thank you.