Open letter to UW officials: Repeal the COVID vaccination and testing mandates

This letter was sent to the president, the provost, and many other UW administrators on August 26th, 2021. A list of signatories is at the bottom. To have your own signature added, please send email to Michael Palmer, Dept. of Chemistry. Please include your name (with titles if you'd like to list them), your position (faculty/staff/student/parent/alumnus) and if applicable your department or program.

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We, the undersigned employees and students, or parents of students, of the University of Waterloo (UW) herewith express our categorical disagreement with the COVID-related mandates recently imposed by the university administration on all employees and students (e-mail entitled, "Mandatory vaccination and attestation," dated August 16th, 2021; e-mail entitled, "Proof of vaccination now required for campus access," dated August 24th, 2021). These mandates are unlawful, and their net effect will be to cause disease, not to prevent it.

Are mandates for vaccination or “anonymous” declaration of vaccination status covered by existing contracts?

Any mandates involving vaccination, declaration of vaccination status, and testing violate all employment contracts that were concluded, as well as all offers of admission that were accepted before the mandates were imposed. The rights infringed upon include those enshrined in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the highest law of the land. Thus, the mandates are unlawful and invalid.

What is the rationale for coercing vaccination?

Generally speaking, vaccination can have a number of different outcomes:

  1. It can induce “sterilizing immunity,” which means that the vaccinated person cannot contract and spread the pathogen in question.

  2. It can induce protection without sterilization – manifest disease in vaccinated persons will be suppressed or at least mitigated, but they may still contract and spread the infection.

  3. It can fail altogether – vaccinated persons remain as likely to fall ill as the unvaccinated or become even more so.

Only the first outcome could justify, tenuously, a vaccine mandate. Widespread sterilizing immunity could be expected to result in “herd immunity,” meaning that the immunity of the many who were vaccinated would also protect the few who cannot be vaccinated, typically due to underlying deficiencies of their immune systems.

It is generally accepted, however, that none of the currently used COVID vaccines produce sterilizing immunity; in fact, recent data indicate that they provide at best marginal protection. Therefore, mandating COVID vaccination has no rational justification.

Why is natural immunity not considered?

More than one year into the so-called pandemic, very many people have already been infected with the SARS-CoV-2 virus and have acquired natural immunity. It has been shown that this immunity is much more robust than that conferred by the vaccines; such an outcome is indeed expected. Accordingly, those with natural immunity cannot possibly derive any additional benefit or protection from getting vaccinated. On the other hand, they are at increased risk of grave adverse events from the vaccines. Thus, even if there were valid reasons for mandating vaccination – which is not the case – the very first order of business should still be to offer tests for existing immunity, and to permanently exempt from vaccination those who test positive. This failure to account for natural immunity alone suffices to prove that the vaccine mandates imposed by the UW administration are unscientific, vexatious, and reckless.

Healthy people don’t transmit COVID-19.

While PCR methods have their legitimate uses in diagnosing infectious diseases, there is no good reason for using them on persons who are not sick. Numerous studies have confirmed that the SARS-CoV-2 virus can be detected in cell culture only in samples from patients who are clinically sick, or whose symptoms subsided only a few short days ago. Those same studies determined that viral nucleic acids remained detectable by PCR in samples for weeks and even months after cell cultures had turned negative. Only cell cultures detect live viruses; in contrast, PCR will also detect non-viable virus particles and even fragments of viral nucleic acids.

A very large study conducted in Wuhan, China, which enrolled almost 10 million people, failed to trace any cases of clinical disease to contagion from PCR-positive but asymptomatic individuals. All of these findings indicate that a positive PCR test alone does not imply contagiousness. The testing mandates imposed on those members of the UW community who refuse to provide proof of vaccination are therefore without any scientific basis. Moreover, the very frequent repetition of these tests – twice weekly – will harm the very tender mucous membranes of the nasal cavity, which unlike those e.g. in the oral cavity are not able to withstand mechanical stress. Such frequently repeated trauma will cause pain and bacterial infections. This scientifically baseless and burdensome testing schedule is clearly designed to make peoples’ lives miserable and to pressure them into getting vaccinated.

Are UW administrators really unaware of the numerous grave adverse effects of the COVID vaccines?

Several leading UW administrators – notably President Vivek Goel, Provost James Rush, and VP Research Charmaine Dean – come from a public health or biomedical science background. Professional due diligence should therefore have acquainted them with the many kinds of severe adverse effects of the vaccines that have been reported in the medical literature. While the literature so far contains only case reports or small-scale studies on adverse events, a very large number of vaccine-related deaths and injuries is evident in the adverse events reporting systems of the U.S, the U.K., and the European Union. Even these systems, however, do not reflect the full magnitude of the problem. The independent advocacy group “America’s Frontline Doctors,” whose membership includes many very experienced physicians, has filed for an injunction against the existing vaccine emergency use authorizations, asserting that as many as 55,000 vaccine-related deaths have been reported to the federal authorities in the U.S. alone. Over and above these deaths, there are even more cases of grave and disabling disease such as heart attack, stroke, myocarditis, and multi-organ inflammatory disease. Such cases have been reported across all age groups.

This catastrophic outcome must be weighed against the tenuous benefits of vaccination. It must also be weighed against the minuscule risk of grave disease which the virus poses to persons of all ages without underlying disease, and particularly to adolescents and young adults such as our students. The risk-benefit balance of COVID vaccination is unambiguously negative. These vaccines should no longer be called “experimental,” because the experiment has already ended in failure. Any further continuation of this failed “experiment” amounts to the wilful infliction of bodily harm.

The vaccine mandates are divisive.

Both the vaccinated and the unvaccinated can contract the virus and then spread it. On the other hand, members of neither group will actually spread the virus as long as they are not themselves ill.

People may object to vaccination for various reasons, including medical, religious, and philosophical ones. Whichever the case may be – the choice to get vaccinated remains a personal one, as guaranteed by the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Regardless of our choices, there is no need for us to be afraid of each other. For too long have we allowed ourselves to be alienated from one another and divided, for fear of a virus that is no more deadly or dangerous than the flu. It is high time that we leave this fear behind and resume our normal lives – in private, but also at work. UW’s vaccine mandates won’t help us do that; instead, they will further entrench fear and distrust. They will keep us divided at a time when the UW community should be coming together to revive the confident and forward-looking spirit for which Waterloo is well known.

We urge UW administrators to repeal the mandates.

Beyond their divisiveness, the vaccine mandates will inflict more tangible harm. Given the size of UW’s population of students and employees, it is certain that coerced vaccinations will result in severe injury and quite possibly even deaths. It is urgent that these irrational and unlawful coercive measures be repealed before it is too late.



UW-affiliated signatories



Department /Program

Michael Palmer, MD Faculty Chemistry
Edward R. Vrscay, PhD Faculty Applied Mathematics
Richard Mann, PhD Faculty Computer Science
Wayne Oldford, PhD Faculty Statistics and Actuarial Science
Samuel WK Wong, PhD Faculty Statistics and Actuarial Science
Xiaosong Wang, PhD Faculty Chemistry
Emily Schroeder, MLIS MA Staff University Secretariat
Carmen Jaray Staff Central Stores
Paula Petrie Staff Faculty of Engineering
Rosina Kharal Instructor Computer Science
Susan Beth Martin, BScPharm RPh BCGP, clinical pharmacist Parent
Jean-Claude and Renia Pasche Parents
Jean-Luc Pasche Student
Moneka Esa Student Pharmacy (CAP)
Jason and Maureen Brintnell Parents Health Science/Arts
Dr. K. Elizabeth Storjohann BSc, ND, RTCMP Parent
Max Storjohann Student Electrical Engineering
Ashley Mackayla Gellatly Student Geography and Aviation
Sherry Gellatly Parent
Allister Talbot Staff Central Stores
Natalie Potkidis Student Optometry
Joana Potkidis Parent
Katia Naccarato Student Actuarial Science
Paul Ferrara Student Planning
Chris Vitols Student Architectural Engineering
Rob Vitols Parent
Lorri Vitols Parent
Nadine Osman Student Health Science
Ned Osman Parent
Maria Barichello Staff Student Success Office
Dr. Rebecca Cannon ND Parent
Desanka Stan Staff Plant Operations
Tanja Dukic Staff Plant Operations
Radojka Duricin Staff Plant Operations
Maria Lezeu Staff Food Services
Andre McIntyre Staff Plant Operations
Dawn Durst Staff Food Services
Brittany Latour Staff Plant Operations
Malgorzata Kozlowska Staff Plant Operations
Lisa Morrison Staff Residence
Erin Krueger Staff Food Services
Agnes Kordiasz Staff Davis Circulation Services
Nikola Milicevic Staff Plant Operations
Fahreta Colic Staff Plant Operations
Richmond Xoly Lee Staff Plant Operations
Kenrick Jackson Staff Plant Operations
Robert Duniec Staff Plant Operations
Ranco Ivanovic Staff Custodian
Mioara Lezeu Staff Food Services
Ioan Ciotmonda Staff Plant Operations
Daniel Matheson, BMath 2018 / MMath 2019 Alumnus Applied Mathematics
Wiesia Mazur Staff Plant Operations
Anita Dump, PhD Parent
Blanca Lizarazu Parent
Adam Mihailov Alumnus Chemistry
Valentina Pawlowska Student Nanotechnology Engineering
Mr. and Ms. Temporao Parents Computer Science / Biomedical Science
Stephanie Milling Student Optometry
Stuart and Debbie Milling Parents Optometry
Tatiana Bevilacqua Student Public Health
Lawrence and Tina Yu Parents Engineering
Jovana Todorovic Student
Meghan Schmuck Staff
Finnie Flores, MPH, MAEd Alumna
Sholina Jivraj Parent
Tom Kiroplis Parent
Andreea Popian Staff Advancement
Sonia Hiebert Parent
Dana Gavrilescu Alumna Applied Psychology
Naglaa Elmongy Parent Computer Science
Grant A. Brown, DPhil (Oxon), LL.B. Alumnus
Vanessa Richter, BA Alumna
Barbara Hankins, BMus, BEd, MMus Parent
Steve Zafiris, DDS Alumnus Science
In Sun Kim, MFA Alumna/Student
Patrick Doucette Husband
Anna Mae Dueck Student Health Sciences
Peter Cornelisse Student Engineering
Rachel Vanheule Alumna Mathematics
Myah Sachedina Student
George Heath Student Biology
Cory Savage Alumna Science
Sharon Radic Staff Pharmacy
Adam Svatos Alumnus Nanotechnology Engineering
Rhiannon Lohr BASc MASc Alumnus Nanotechnology Engineering and Electrical and Computer Engineering
Roderick MacNeill BA, MA Alumnus Philosophy
Dalinda Reese, MTS, MD (USA) Alumna
Maria Nazeer Alumna Psychology
Dr. Jeff Randall, B.Sc., DC Alumnus
Patty Mah Staff Accounting and Finance
Caleb Lloyd Girard MSc student Biology
Wenyuan Zhang Postdoctoral fellow Physics and Astronomy
Kathryn Benoit Staff Optometry
Ray Vander Veen Parent
Andrew and Debra Sedore Parents
Albert Celli, P.Eng. Aumnus Engineering
Lucas Godkin Student Mechanical Engineering
Angela Meyer Sterzik, PhD Alumna
Svetlana Egorova Parent
Serguei Egorov, PhD Parent Aerospace Engineering
Annemarie Vander Veen Alumna
Cielo M. Gibson Alumna Mathematics
Jill Morrison-Koechl, M.Sc. PHD Student Kinesiology
Hend Shalan Staff Campus Housing
Caroline Taylor Graduate Student Earth and Environmental Sciences
Eric Wilson Alumnus
Morgan Robinson PhD candidate Pharmacy
Anita O'Connor Staff Co-operative Education
Ruth Witmer Staff Co-operative Education
Alex Lehmacher Staff Plant Operations
Hamzah Sabeeh Student Kinesiology
Zhenle Cao Alumnus Nanotechnology Engineering
Joshua Caldwell Student Mathematics
Rodica Oprea Staff Food Services
Nadeem Lawji Staff Dana Porter Library
Aryamik Sharma Student Environment and Business
Amr Ragab Parent Computer Science
John Vanheule Student Mathematics/Chartered Accountancy
Johanna Wellum Alumna Chemistry
Jonathan Wellum Alumnus Science
Saleem Ahmad Alumnus Engineering/MBET
Dragan Ivic Staff
Sarah Hanna Student Pharmacy
Serge Lefebvre Alumnus Mechanical Engineering
Dr. Amanda Ferris, ND Alumna
Sheila Brubacher Staff Registrar's Office
Jason Mills Alumnus/Parent Computer Engineering
Janet Mills Parent
Angelina Cleroux, MASc psychology Alumna
Andrew Zwart Alumnus Engineering
Stephanie Zwart Alumna English
Adam Lehto, BA, MA, PhD Alumnus
Alex Wagler Student
Sarah McCaugherty Staff Earth Sciences
Birgit Moscinski Staff Conrad Grebel University College
Mark McRae Parent
Andrew Golabek Graduate student Chemistry
Karen Gonçalves Parent
Starbuck Orta Alumnus Psychology
Karli Swatridge BSc, MSc Alumnus
Nathan Eddy OCT, MMT, BEd, BSc Alumnus
Tanya Yuill Parent
Chris Gupta BASc (Eng), P.Eng., CEO Alumnus
Joe Vander Ween Student Engineering
Myriam Nafte Parent
Katie Kent Staff Mathematics
Lynn Howard, BA, MA Alumna German and Russian Studies
Andrew Dixon Student Renison University College
Travis Dunn Alumnus Mathematics
Fulvia Grande-Naccarato Parent
Dragan Ivic Staff
Kathleen Van Lierde Parent
Nathan Savoy Student Mathematical Physics
Cassidy Wagler, BA Alumna Arts
Nicholas A. Lee Alumnus Mechatronics Engineering

Signatories without UW-affiliation



Department /Program

Claudia Chaufan, MD, PhD Associate Professor, Health Policy and Global Health York University
Tamara Bell Student Conestoga College
Jeffrey Brooman Senior Technician Canada Computer Geeks Ltd.
Char Palmer Nurse
Martina Speck PhD Student University of Ottawa
Matt Marlow, PhD Chemistry Faculty Nicholls University, Thibodaux, Louisiana