The Hippocratic Oath

Medical Ethics and mRNA Vaccines

6 min readMar 26, 2023

The Hippocratic Oath has been a cornerstone of medical ethics for over two millennia, originating in ancient Greece. This code of ethics requires doctors to prioritize patient safety above all else, a principle encapsulated in the phrase “do no harm.” In this post, we will explore the history and significance of the Hippocratic Oath, the deities it invokes, and the contemporary relevance of “do no harm.”

The Hippocratic Oath is attributed to Hippocrates, who is often referred to as the “Father of Medicine.” Although the Oath’s authorship is debated, its role as a guiding principle for physicians remains uncontested. The Oath invokes several ancient Greek gods, including Apollo, Asclepius, and Asclepius’ daughters, Hygieia and Panacea. This invocation serves to remind physicians of their humility and the responsibility to uphold high ethical standards.

The Greek physician Hippocrates (460–370 BC)

Central to the Hippocratic Oath is the principle of “first do no harm,” which underscores the importance of patient safety. This tenet extends to weighing the potential risks and benefits of any medical procedure or treatment, ensuring that the patient’s well-being remains at the forefront of decision-making.

As the renowned physician Sir William Osler once said, “The good physician treats the disease; the great physician treats the patient who has the disease.” This quote highlights the significance of considering the individual patient’s needs and circumstances in addition to the medical condition itself.

By adhering to the principle of “first do no harm,” physicians demonstrate their commitment to prioritizing patient safety and welfare above all else. This involves carefully considering the potential consequences of their actions, seeking alternative treatments when necessary, and continuously updating their knowledge to provide the best possible care for their patients. In this way, the timeless wisdom of the Hippocratic Oath continues to guide the medical profession in its pursuit of healing and ethical practice.

mRNA vaccines, such as those developed for COVID-19, represent a significant advancement in medical technology. These vaccines utilize a small segment of the virus’s genetic material (mRNA) to instruct cells to produce a modified version of the spike protein, which then triggers an immune response. The rapid development and approval of these vaccines have raised concerns about potential long-term side effects.

It is worth noting that the spike protein found on the SARS-CoV-2 virus has been associated with some harmful effects on the human body. Research has shown that the spike protein can contribute to inflammation, blood clotting, and vascular damage.

The development of mRNA vaccines has been supported in part by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) as an emergency toolkit to protect against bioweapons. This support highlights the potential of mRNA technology in responding to various threats, including emerging infectious diseases and potential bioterrorism attacks.

Nevertheless, concerns about the long-term effects of mRNA vaccines and the potential toxicity of the spike protein warrant further investigation. As more data becomes available, physicians must continue to adhere to the principles of the Hippocratic Oath and the Nuremberg Code by remaining informed and transparent with patients about the risks and benefits of vaccination. This approach empowers patients to make informed decisions about their health while upholding the ethical standards set forth by these guiding principles.

The Nuremberg Code, established in the aftermath of the Nuremberg Trials, consists of ten principles that provide ethical guidance for research involving human subjects. These principles were developed in response to the unethical medical experiments conducted by Nazi doctors during World War II. While each of the ten principles contributes to the overall ethical framework, the most relevant section to the discussion of the Hippocratic Oath and mRNA vaccines is the first principle. It states:

  1. The voluntary consent of the human subject is absolutely essential.

This means that the person involved should have legal capacity to give consent; should be so situated as to be able to exercise free power of choice, without the intervention of any element of force, fraud, deceit, duress, overreaching, or other ulterior form of constraint or coercion; and should have sufficient knowledge and comprehension of the elements of the subject matter involved as to enable him to make an understanding and enlightened decision. This latter element requires that before the acceptance of an affirmative decision by the experimental subject, there should be made known to him the nature, duration, and purpose of the experiment; the method and means by which it is to be conducted; all inconveniences and hazards reasonably to be expected; and the effects upon his health or person which may possibly come from his participation in the experiment.

This principle emphasizes the importance of informed consent, which aligns with the Hippocratic Oath’s focus on patient welfare and autonomy. Both the Nuremberg Code and the Hippocratic Oath highlight the need for physicians to provide their patients with accurate and comprehensive information about any medical intervention, including potential risks and benefits, to allow them to make informed decisions about their health.

Given the absence of long-term data, some argue that physicians may not be able to provide patients with a comprehensive risk-benefit analysis, potentially violating the Hippocratic Oath. The expedited development and approval process for mRNA vaccines has led to concerns about unknown long-term side effects and the safety of these vaccines without sufficient data.

Furthermore, the nature of “real-world data” on mRNA vaccines has sparked debate. While the vaccines have demonstrated effectiveness in reducing severe illness, hospitalization, and death, some argue that the lack of long-term data places the vaccinated population in the midst of an ongoing large-scale experiment. This perspective raises additional ethical questions regarding the administration of mRNA vaccines and the principle of “do no harm.”

Physicians must recognize these concerns and engage in transparent discussions with patients about the potential risks and benefits associated with mRNA vaccines. They should provide the most current and accurate information, acknowledging the limitations of existing data and any associated uncertainties. This approach empowers patients to make informed decisions about their health while upholding the ethical standards set forth by the Hippocratic Oath.

Ethical considerations in medicine are often multifaceted, and applying the Hippocratic Oath to modern scenarios may necessitate a nuanced approach. The Nuremberg Trials, held after World War II, brought attention to the horrifying human experimentation conducted by Josef Mengele and other Nazi doctors. These trials led to the establishment of the Nuremberg Code, a set of research ethics principles designed to protect human subjects from unethical experimentation.

In the case of mRNA vaccines, balancing the urgent need to protect public health during a global pandemic against potential unknown long-term risks is crucial. While these vaccines were developed and approved rapidly, concerns have been raised about the absence of long-term data and the potential for unforeseen consequences.

Kevin McKernan, a researcher with a background in genetics and genomics, has conducted studies suggesting that the vaccines may be contaminated with double-stranded DNA and are producing uncharacterized expression vectors. This finding is significant because it raises questions about the safety and long-term effects of the vaccines, which have been administered to millions of people worldwide.

These concerns further highlight the importance of upholding the principles of the Hippocratic Oath and the Nuremberg Code when administering mRNA vaccines. As more data becomes available, physicians must continue to adhere to these principles by remaining informed and transparent with patients about the risks and benefits of vaccination. This approach empowers patients to make informed decisions about their health while upholding the ethical standards set forth by these guiding principles.

In conclusion, the Hippocratic Oath has served as a guiding principle for medical professionals for thousands of years. Its core tenet, “do no harm,” remains relevant today, even amidst rapidly evolving medical technologies like mRNA vaccines. The lessons learned from the Nuremberg Trials, as well as recent findings by researchers like Kevin McKernan, further emphasize the importance of ethical conduct in medical research and practice. As physicians navigate the complexities of modern medicine, they must remain steadfast in upholding these ethical standards, consistently evaluating the risks and benefits of medical interventions, and prioritizing patient safety above all else.

A 12th-century Greek manuscript of the oath




“That which can warm us, can also incinerate us” — Edwin Black