The US Open tennis tournament has begun in Queens, and one of the world’s best players will finally be allowed to compete again. Novak Djokovic, who’s declined COVID-19 vaccination, was barred from entering the United States for nearly two years, forcing him to miss multiple major tournaments including the 2022 US Open.
Like many others, Djokovic suffered under public health decision-making that did everything but follow the science. Joe Biden, by presidential proclamation, banned the entry of unvaccinated noncitizen air travelers into the country starting Nov. 8, 2021. Apparently, unvaccinated citizens and land travelers did not pose any risk. He finally lifted the restriction on May 12, 2023, but the ban never made much sense for Djokovic or anyone else who could document recovery from COVID infection.
Djokovic tested positive for COVID twice, in June 2020 and December 2021. Before the pandemic, most infectious disease experts said natural immunity usually confers better protection than vaccines. Multiple 2021 studies, here and abroad, found this is true for COVID-19 as well. A large Cleveland Clinic study concluded that individuals with previous COVID infections are “unlikely to benefit” from vaccination.