California University Terminates Medical Ethics Professor Over 'Unconstitutional' Vaccine Mandate

Man with mask and gloves

Dr. Aaron Kheriaty, a professor of medical ethics at the University of California-Irvine has been fired from his job after arguing that the school's vaccine mandate was unconstitutional and that natural immunity provided enough protection from COVID. The professor had been teaching at the university for almost 15 years until he was let go over a federal lawsuit he filed in August against the school's COVID vaccine mandate.

"Two years ago I never could have imagined that the University would dismiss me and other doctors, nurses, faculty, staff, and students for this arbitrary and capricious reason," Dr. Kheriaty wrote on Substack of his termination from the University of California-Irvine.

"Everyone at the University seemed to be a fan of my work until suddenly they were not. Once I challenged one of their policies I immediately became a 'threat to the health and safety of the community.'"

Dr. Kheriaty lamented that despite having been a valued part of the school's faculty, he was soon condemned for his opposing views to the COVID vaccine mandate. He argued, "No amount of empirical evidence about natural immunity or vaccine safety and efficacy mattered at all. The University's leadership was not interested in scientific debate or ethical deliberation."

According to the Christian Post, Dr. Kheriaty filed a federal lawsuit in August against the University of California-Irvine's COVID vaccine mandate. However, it failed at the district court level and is now appealed at the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. The now former professor posed a constitutional argument that the school's COVID vaccine mandate violates his equal protection as established by the 14th Amendment of the Constitution.

Dr. Kheriaty said that he was infected with COVID in July 2020 and recovered. He argued that the immunity he has to COVID is longer lasting and more robust than any immunity the current COVID vaccines can provide. He justified having had COVID as to why he no longer needs to get the jab.

Yet, Dr. Kheriaty argued that he was "being unjustly discriminated against" because of his natural immunity "rather than the form of immunity that is supposedly conferred by the vaccines." He added that as weeks pass, the efficacy of vaccine immunity "becomes more apparent," implying that it wanes over time and may not be as effective in protecting against new COVID variants.

Following his termination from the University of California-Irvine, Dr. Kheriaty, who also formerly worked as a professor of psychiatry at UC-Irvine School of Medicine and served as director of the medical ethics program at UCI-Health, now works with the think tank Ethics & Public Policy Center in Washington, D.C. as the Bioethics and American Democracy Program director.

Dr. Kheriaty argued that getting COVID causes the human body to create a more robust natural immunity because it makes antibodies and forms an immune response to the entire virus, including its T-cells, spike, etc. Contrastingly, COVID vaccines were designed to only produce antibodies to the spike proteins of the virus itself. He argued that new research showed how the virus mutates its spike protein to evade vaccines.

The former California university professor argued, "It's much harder to escape natural immunity by viral evolution because natural immunity has far more weapons against the virus than does the vaccine immunity."

But Dr. Kheriaty believes that COVID is on its way to being endemic, especially with Omicron, which may be more transmissible but is not as severe or as deadly as the Delta variant. Center for Disease Control and Prevention director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said on Wednesday that the Omicron variant of COVID now accounts for 73% of the cases in the United States and even up to 90% in some parts of the country, CNBC reported. Walensky underscored the need to get booster shots to aid in protecting against Omicron.

New research, however, reveals that Omicron infections are 80% less likely to result in hospitalizations as it's significantly weaker and less virulent as compared to previous variants. This means infections are more likely to result in natural immunity without the risk of severe illness. Dr. Kheriaty's belief echoes that of other experts who also say Omicron is a sign that the pandemic is nearing its end.