I feel bad for the guy even though I think his fears will prove in time to be unfounded.
Andrew Wiggins was traded to the Golden State Warriors last season by the Minnesota Timberwolves. The good news is that he now gets to play alongside all-world talent like Steph Curry. The bad news is that the Warriors are based in San Francisco, one of two metro areas in the U.S. that requires proof of vaccination to attend large indoor events like NBA games. (New York is the other.) There’s no league-wide mandate for players to get vaxxed, although the unvaccinated will have to follow special safety protocols. But the city-wide mandate meant that unless and until Wiggins got his shots, he’d be ineligible to play at home. That’s half the season.
He had options. He could play road games exclusively, but the Warriors surely wouldn’t settle for that. He could sit out the season entirely in hopes that San Francisco would lift its vax mandate, which the team would like even less. He could request a trade, which would allow him to play most of his new team’s games this season — unless and until their home city imposed its own vax mandate. Or he could grit his teeth and get the shots.
He ended up getting the shots since that was the simplest solution. But he’s not happy about it. Watch two clips here totaling around 4:30.
Andrew Wiggins: “I feel like my only option was to get vaccinated or not play in the NBA.”
He went into much more detail tonight on why he was hesitant pic.twitter.com/lQ1JbDdqJg
— Anthony Slater (@anthonyVslater) October 5, 2021
Andrew Wiggins: “I had COVID before. Wasn’t too bad.” Said he had an allergic reaction to medicine a couple years ago and carries an “epipen” now and doesn’t like to put anything unnatural in his body. pic.twitter.com/H0fZKSbU3y
— Anthony Slater (@anthonyVslater) October 5, 2021
Gene damage, cancer, infertility — he cycles through every conceivable vaccine doom scenario in his comments, wondering more than once if he’ll still be healthy 10 years from now. Without a shadow of a doubt, every health problem this guy ever has he’ll blame on having been vaccinated, up to and including pulled muscles. Even so, anti-vaxxers motivated by anxiety about potential side effects are more sympathetic than those motivated by the view that their personal autonomy requires freedom from all restrictions aimed at reducing the risk of infection to those around them. And Wiggins’s anxiety is obviously heartfelt.
Which, again, isn’t a defense of his position. His family’s still at risk:
Wiggins also said that no one in his family is vaccinated.
“It’s not really something we believe in as a family,” he said. “They know that I had to. It came down to get the vaccination or don’t play basketball. I’m 26. I have two kids. I want more kids. I’m trying to do something that will generate as much money as I can for my kids and my future kids, trying to make generational wealth. So, I took the gamble, took the risk, and hopefully, like I said, I’m good.”
If it’s any comfort to him, a lot of people are in his shoes right now. And unlike him, they’re not being paid millions a year to do their jobs.
He says in the second clip that he’s had COVID before. That could potentially be confirmed by an antibody test. If he turns out to have antibodies, shouldn’t he be exempt from San Francisco’s vaccine mandate? Immunity is the desired end, vaccination is merely the safest and most convenient means. Although maybe natural immunity isn’t as durable as we all assume it is:
[A] team of scientists led by faculty at Yale School of Public Health and the University of North Carolina at Charlotte have an answer: Strong protection following natural infection is short-lived.
“Reinfection can reasonably happen in three months or less,” said Jeffrey Townsend, the Elihu Professor of Biostatistics at the Yale School of Public Health and the study’s lead author. “Therefore, those who have been naturally infected should get vaccinated. Previous infection alone can offer very little long-term protection against subsequent infections.”…
“We tend to think about immunity as being immune or not immune. Our study cautions that we instead should be more focused on the risk of reinfection through time,” said Alex Dornburg, assistant professor of bioinformatics and genomics at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, who co-led the study. “As new variants arise, previous immune responses become less effective at combating the virus. Those who were naturally infected early in the pandemic are increasingly likely to become reinfected in the near future.”
A now famous study from Israel showed that natural immunity provides much stronger protection than vaccination does but the gap between the two shrunk over time. That is, even immunity derived from infection appears to drop off after awhile. Which means Wiggins probably would have ended up needing to get vaccinated eventually, if not necessarily soon.
There’s a silver lining for him, though. Assuming he’s telling the truth about having recovered from COVID, he now has superhuman “hybrid” immunity. That’ll help keep the unvaxxed members of his family safe around him.