George Mason University law professor who recovered from COVID sues school over vaccine mandate

The law professor wrote in an op-ed that those who have recovered from COVID-19 have largely been excluded from the vaccine trials.

Updated: August 9, 2021 - 5:54pm

George Mason University (GMU) law professor Todd Zywicki is suing the university over its COVID-19 vaccine mandate, because he has recovered from the virus and argues that he should not be required to get vaccinated.

Zywicki, who has taught at the school for 23 years, said he contracted COVID-19 last spring and had several positive antibody tests since recovering, which suggests he has a high level of immunity against the coronavirus, The Epoch Times reported.

The law professor said that last year he volunteered to teach in person, but GMU's vaccine policy would make it difficult for him to do that in the fall.

"My employer, a state institution, is requiring COVID vaccines. In my case, vaccination is unnecessary and potentially risky," Zywicki wrote in a Wall Street Journal op-ed. "My only other options are to teach remotely or to seek a medical exemption that would require me to wear a mask, remain socially distanced from faculty or students during, say, office hours, and submit to weekly testing."

Students at GMU are "required to be fully vaccinated by August 1, 2021," unless they have a medical or religious exemption, or are online only, according to the university's website.

Faculty and staff "must have received at least one COVID-19 vaccination by August 15, 2021," and prove that they are fully vaccinated "by October 1, 2021, or have an approved medical or religious exemption," or will work remotely.

The university's website cites a Washington Post article that says Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D) is requiring state employees, including those at universities, to be fully vaccinated, or else get tested weekly.

Students, faculty, and staff must receive a COVID-19 vaccine approved by either the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) or the World Health Organization (WHO). WHO-approved vaccines include China's Sinovac and Sinopharm vaccines, which some have called into question.

"Whatever the university's reasoning for endorsing these low-quality vaccines while slighting natural immunity, it clearly doesn't stand up on public-health grounds," Zywicki said.

"COVID-recovered individuals have been mostly excluded from the vaccine clinical trials, rendering any claims about the purported safety for this group largely speculative," Zywicki wrote. He cited a study from March 2021 that suggests survivors of COVID-19 have a greater likelihood of experiencing severe side effects from the vaccine than those who have not contracted the virus.

Officials from GMU said in an emailed statement that it had no comment on Zywicki's lawsuit, but that it is following guidelines from federal and state public health agencies and "currently available medical and scientific information," according to The Epoch Times.

"Based on this information and guidance, we believe that the steps we are taking will best protect the health and safety of the Mason community and allow the Mason community to engage in a vibrant in-person campus experience," the university wrote.