Whatever we think of the merit of their decisions and the measures they took, experts and governments just assumed that scaring people was the thing to do. Even today, with the Omicron variant, more and more European governments are doing just that. The problem, [Adam] Grant suggests, is that fear-based communication is not sustainable; what happens with the passing of time is that we end up in “the boring apocalypse”….
The Biden administration’s illegal vaccine mandate has already had real consequences. At the clinic where I work, our laboratory lost half our phlebotomists because they refused to be vaccinated. Never mind they had already been working for a year and a half of the pandemic, with personal protective equipment and other safeguards, without adverse effects.
It is not easy to replace them in this economy. With the loss of these essential people and the excessively prolonged wait to get labs, how many people did not follow through with essential lab tests? How many lives were lost as a result?
Ted E. Barber, M.D.
When will New Yorkers ever be vaccinated enough to have their pre-COVID freedoms back?
That’s the unasked question lingering over several new government mandates that went into effect this week. Beginning Monday, at the order of Democratic Governor Kathy Hochul, every business in the state was required by law to have every employee and customer show proof of full COVID-19 vaccination, or make everyone inside their doors over the age of 2 wear a mask.
Violators face fines of up to $1,000. Enforcement is being left to county governments, of which an estimated one-quarter—almost all run by Republicans—have indicated they will not participate in.
Governments around the world have encouraged and enforced a new form of segregation based on vaccine status. This is not only dangerously inhumane; there is no scientific basis for this.
There seems to be an underlying presumption here that the unvaccinated are unclean (regardless of natural immunity) and their presence will spread disease. What if, however, existing studies reveal that there is little to no difference between the COVID vaccinated and unvaccinated in terms of becoming infected, harboring the virus (viral load in the oral and nasopharynx), and transmitting it?
Is anyone in government listening?
Vaccine passports in the UK will fail to stop COVID spread or protect the vulnerable. They will succeed in fuelling social division, NHS over-crowding, and distrust in public health.
Writing in the Telegraph, Sunetra Gupta decries the likely return to Britain of the straw man: “The costs of restrictions have been devastating, as everyone can see. Yet we are poised once more to add to the collateral damage.” Another slice:
The catalogue of collateral damage of these potential mitigations has now become too immense for anybody to ignore, but somehow they were justified in the face of the threat that the spread of the new virus posed. Any simple calculation would indicate otherwise, particularly as their ability to bound the spread of the virus hangs in doubt on the basis of comparisons between regions with very different policies.
When will this nightmare end? Next year? The year after? Are ruined Christmases the new normal? Britain, in common with much of the West, failed to learn the lessons from the first phases of the pandemic, and now faces a crippling, debilitating and ruinous cycle of never-ending lockdowns as each new variant overwhelms us.
The usual groupthink-addled technocrats – the very same ones who panicked about the cost of Brexit – are staggeringly complacent about the impact of recurring lockdowns and restrictions, and of the borrowing, tax increases and money-printing deployed to pay for them.
We used to think that the biggest threat to our way of life was terrorism or nuclear war or invasion. It turns out that our greatest Achilles’ heel is our health system’s lack of capacity. Even a relatively mild disease that has already largely been tamed by vaccines and antivirals can bring us repeatedly to our knees, making us shut our societies to “protect our NHS”, crippling our confidence, economies and children’s education.
Keen to keep our Christmas issue nominally upbeat — not Shriver’s strong suit — I’m pleased to discover that these days I admire a host of folks who aren’t dead. Some are colleagues or acquaintances; others I’ve never met. While they don’t all embrace the same catechism, they’ve one thing in common: they depart from establishment orthodoxy on Covid-19. What they share, then, is an anti-catechism.
I’ve been vocal about my dismay over unquestioning public capitulation to wholesale rescindment of civil liberties during this pandemic. I’ve raised the alarm over the irrationality of divisive but bizarrely popular vaccine mandates and passports, when the inoculated also catch and spread this disease. I’ve decried the collusion of government, Big Tech and the mainstream media, all singing in such perfect harmony that they could go on tour as a Motown revival band. But the Covid story has not altogether been one of unrelenting conformity. Often at some cost to themselves, a range of British journalists, academics, doctors and, yes, even politicians have sung piercingly off-key.
I’m therefore taking this seasonal opportunity to thank these perverse if not downright self-destructive outliers, upon whom for the past 20 months I’ve personally relied to maintain my sanity and my faith in humanity.
Former Supreme Court Justice Jonathan Sumption has tirelessly advanced the case that subjugating democracy to public–health tyranny puts the West in a grave political danger bound to persist beyond the pandemic. Ever temperate, articulate and urbane, Sumption bears a faint resemblance to my husband, who never twigs that I mean the comparison as a big compliment.
Every week, professional curmudgeon Peter Hitchens has given grumpy, disgusted and deliciously disdainful interviews on Talkradio. He’s even appeared in legacy media, in the rare instances a discouraging word about illiberal, epidemiologically inane government policy is allowed on mainstream shows. Hitchens’s primary shortcoming is a belligerent conviction that he’s the only person standing up to the new authoritarianism. Look around you, Peter. You may spurn the helping hand, but you have confederates.
The crew at Spiked, among them Brendan O’Neill, Fraser Myers and Tom Slater, have remorselessly produced Covid content against the grain; ditto the faux-naïf self-styled nerds at Triggernometry. True to its name, UnHerd has consistently run pieces that contest received coronavirus wisdom, and I’d particularly commend terrific recent essays by Paul Kingsnorth (‘How Fear Fuels the Vaccine Wars’) and Matthew Crawford (‘The New Public Health Despotism’). Along with many other freelancers, Ross Clark, Matt Ridley and Douglas Murray have swum against an exhausting tide of ideological uniformity. The oncologist Karol Sikora has warned about the dire consequences of blinkered obsession with Covid for cancer patients. Epidemiologists such as Sunetra Gupta and Carl Heneghan have put reputations on the line to interrogate ‘known facts’ in their profession. Shockers, even a handful of British politicians have stuck up for their constituencies’ civil rights, including MPs Steve Baker and Sir Desmond Swayne (‘Masks are about sending a message — well I don’t like the message!’).
For the most part, I’ve found the pandemic’s lessons on human nature to be depressing. Lo, most people are easily manipulated through fear, so that citizens in seemingly stable, storied democracies can be persuaded to trammel their constitutions over the course of a few days. Most people contain a kernel of authoritarianism that only requires the right circumstances to germinate. Most people can be enticed to gleefully rat on their neighbours. Most people delight in viciously demonising an outgroup.
Secondly, vaccine passports are illiberal and discriminatory. They turn liberty from an unconditional right into a privilege tied to your health status. They could also take us down a worrying path towards a two-tier society of vaxxed and unvaxxed, where the latter are excluded from much of public life.
The great Daniel Hannan speaks wisely in the House of Lords: