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President Joe Biden talks with Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III.Shutterstock

WASHINGTON, D.C. (LifeSiteNews) – U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin announced Sunday evening he has tested positive for COVID-19 despite being “fully vaccinated” and boosted against the virus.

“As my doctor made clear to me, my fully vaccinated status — and the booster I received in early October — have rendered the infection much more mild than it would otherwise have been,” Austin claimed, Fox News reported

The secretary added that he has not met in person with President Joe Biden since December 21, when he tested negative and “more than a week before I began to experience symptoms.” He also stressed that he has ‘not been in the Pentagon since Thursday, where I met briefly — and only — with a few members of my staff. We were properly masked and socially distanced throughout.”

“The vaccines work and will remain a military medical requirement for our workforce,” he noted. “I continue to encourage everyone eligible for a booster shot to get one. This remains a readiness issue.”

In August, Austin directed the secretaries of all military branches to “immediately begin full [COVID] vaccination of all members of the Armed Forces” and “impose ambitious timelines for implementation.” The deadlines are November 2 for the Air Force, November 28 for the Navy and Marine Corps, December 15 for the Army, December 28 for the Navy and Marine Corps Reserves, and December 2 for the Air Force Guard and Reserves. Army Guard and Reserves have until June 2022.

The vast majority of service members have complied, but more than 30,000 troops remain unvaccinated, with over 20,000 seeking religious exemptions or medical exemptions, or simply refusing to comply. Several thousand have secured exemptions for non-religious reasons. So far, the Pentagon has yet to approve a single religious exemption. Last month, the military began discharging soldiers for non-compliance.

While defenders of vaccine mandates are quick to point out that the military has long required soldiers to vaccinate against a range of diseases due to the harsh and exotic locales soldiers are sent to for extended periods of time and the close quarters they typically share with one another, the fact remains that previous vaccines were subjected to far more evaluation and development time before being put into widespread use than the COVID shots received during their accelerated clinical trials.

Vaccine defenders also note that this one-year development period was not starting from scratch but rather relied on years of prior research into mRNA technology; and that one of the innovations of the Trump administration’s Operation Warp Speed was conducting various aspects of the development process concurrently rather than sequentially, eliminating delays unrelated to safety. However, those factors do not fully account for the condensing of clinical trial phases — each of which can take anywhere from 1-3 years on their own — to just three months apiece.

While cases of severe harm reported to the federal Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System (VAERS) after taking COVID shots represent less than one percent of total doses administered in the United States, a 2010 report submitted to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services’ (HHS) Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) warned that VAERS caught “fewer than 1% of vaccine adverse events.” Last May, NBC News quoted several mainstream experts acknowledging “gaps” in federal vaccine monitoring.

Additionally, regardless of vaccination status, most Americans below age 65 face less than a 1% risk of dying from COVID in the absence of other negative health factors, such as obesity, diabetes, or vitamin deficiency. Further, the majority of American Omicron cases so far have been among the vaccinated, and the variant (which is now believed to make up 95% of all new COVID cases in the U.S.) appears to be less dangerous than its predecessors because it targets the upper respiratory tract rather than the lungs.

Further, data indicates that widespread dissemination of the COVID vaccines has failed to end the pandemic. The federal government considers more than 206 million Americans (62% of the eligible) to be “fully vaccinated” (a moving target given the vaccines’ temporary nature), yet data from Johns Hopkins University reported in October shows that more Americans died of COVID-19 by that point in 2021 (353,000) than in all of 2020 (352,000). The Moderna vaccine has been available throughout all of 2021; the Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson shots were made available in late February.

Austin’s is far from the first so-called “breakthrough” case among pro-COVID vaccine public figures. Other examples include Democrat Sens. Cory Booker and Elizabeth Warren, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki, six Texas Democrats who fled the state to Washington, D.C. in hopes of blocking a vote on an election security bill, left-wing activist Rev. Jesse Jackson, liberal HBO comedian and pundit Bill Maher, and CNBC financial host Jim Cramer.

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