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Arguing from the other side – Onne Vegter sets out the case against mandatory vaccines
In this article, entrepreneur, writer and educator Onne Vegter sets out to defend against the proposal to implement Mandatory Vaccines – a far more detailed and perhaps compelling argument than his first article, published simultaneously, arguing in favour of the idea. The Vegter family’s roots are Dutch, a nation known for their direct approach. In that respect, Onne Vegter’s contribution lives up to expectations. It is lengthy and he initially suggested we may break it up into smaller articles. Once starting to read it, however, I was riveted. The 20 minutes was well invested. I’ve a feeling you’ll feel the same way. – Alec Hogg
The Case Against Mandatory Covid-19 Vaccination
By Onne Vegter*
In my previous essay, I examined the case for mandatory vaccination. If certain key criteria are met, mandatory vaccination could be imposed for the common good, if supported by the science and warranted by the expected harm that will result from not making vaccination compulsory.
Let us now look in detail at the case against mandatory vaccination, with regard to the Covid-19 vaccines.
Being opposed to mandates is not necessarily an anti-vaxx position. One has to ask why so many health professionals and scientists, as well as fully vaccinated individuals who are strongly in favour of vaccines, are vehemently opposed to Covid-19 vaccine mandates.
The reasons can be found in the five requirements that are needed to justify a policy of mandatory vaccination:
- The vaccines must be properly trialled, tested and approved
- The vaccines must be effective at preventing infection and transmission
- The vaccines must be safe and present negligible risk of harm to the person receiving the jab
- No other reasonable alternatives exist to prevent or treat the disease
- The risk or disease being immunised against must be sufficiently serious
Let’s examine each of them to see if the Covid-19 vaccines meet these criteria.
A quick disclaimer. This essay is long — it runs to over 5000 words. The reason is that this debate deeply impacts people’s lives. Mandates that will affect people’s bodies, health and freedom require a comprehensive and honest exploration of the issues at hand. Those who are involved in policy decisions regarding mandatory vaccination have a duty to critically assess whether these five requirements are sufficiently met before implementing a policy of mandatory vaccination. For those who want the highlights only, and who don’t have the inclination to spend 20 minutes reading through this article in detail, go ahead and jump to the conclusion at the end.
- The vaccines must be properly trialled, tested and approved.
For mandatory vaccination to be justified, the vaccines in question need to be properly trialled and tested, and fully approved by regulatory bodies. A major objection to mandatory Covid-19 vaccination is the fact that in most countries the Covid-19 vaccines currently have emergency use authorisation only, and are still involved in phase 3 trials until 2023.
The speed at which we were able to develop these vaccines should be celebrated and applauded, and should not undermine our trust in these vaccines. It is clear from the trial results and from subsequent real world data that the vaccines are saving lives by significantly reducing the risk of severe disease and death. But the unavoidable downside of this wonderfully fast roll-out is that we lack long term safety and efficacy data.
Those who object to mandatory vaccination point out that every person who gets vaccinated is essentially participating in a large scale phase 3 clinical trial. They question whether it is ethically and morally justified to force citizens to participate in an ongoing, large scale trial of a new vaccine technology, when long term safety data is unavailable and final approval has in many countries not yet been granted to the vaccines in question.
- The vaccines must be effective at preventing infection and transmission.
A key argument for mandatory vaccination would be a vaccine’s ability to induce sterilising immunity. If the benefit of a vaccine is mainly personal (by reducing symptoms but not really stopping infection or transmission) it makes little sense to mandate vaccination. But if they can stop or significantly reduce infection and transmission, the benefit of vaccination extends to the whole of society. Then getting jabbed actually protects those around you. If the jabs can induce sterilising immunity and stop the spread, mandatory vaccination could help end the pandemic sooner. This is the crux of the “greater good” argument.
So the question is — how effective are the Covid-19 vaccines at preventing infection and transmission? To what extent does vaccination protect others, by reducing their risk of infection? The mainstream view is that these vaccines do prevent infection and transmission. The manufacturer’s trial data appear to show that the vaccines are effective at reducing infections. And a number of subsequent studies (in particular those conducted on earlier variants, before Delta and Omicron came along) have backed up this finding. As a result, public health agencies have consistently claimed that the Covid-19 vaccines are effective at preventing infection and transmission, and are the only way to stop this pandemic.
But skeptics argue that these claims appear to be overstated, at best, or completely false, at worst. A key weakness of many studies (including the original manufacturer’s trials) is the exclusion of partially or recently vaccinated people from the study, or worse, including them as part of the unvaccinated cohort. It turns out that the vaccines temporarily suppress one’s immune system, resulting in a statistically significant spike of infections shortly after vaccination. These graphs from Alberta, Canada illustrate this spike clearly:
This can also be seen quite clearly in data from countries that split out cases by vaccination status and have separate categories for unvaccinated, single dose or second dose <14 days ago, and second dose >14 days ago (fully vaccinated). Without such a breakdown, and particularly if the data for partially and recently vaccinated people are lumped together with the unvaccinated cohort, as the CDC does, the spike in cases shortly after vaccination gets attributed to the unvaccinated and the overall picture becomes skewed. This is a very common distortion, and effectively hides all the positive cases immediately following vaccination.
It is clear from the real world data that these Covid-19 vaccines do not induce sterilising immunity, and their ability to at least reduce transmission of the virus has waned significantly since the more transmissible Delta and Omicron variants arose. Booster shots are now called for, but even after a third booster shot, Israel’s health minister reported that there were 10,600 cases of breakthrough infections among the 4 million people who had received three jabs. And that excludes everyone who tested positive within seven days of getting the booster shot. So even three shots cannot stop infections and transmission of the virus. Scientists and researches have repeatedly acknowledged that the vaccines do not stop infections, and that they do not know exactly to what extent the vaccines are able to reduce infections. Many countries no longer track breakthrough infections by vaccination status unless they are hospitalised. The effectiveness of a third booster shot is measured mainly by the reduction in hospitalisations and deaths.
Some researchers have measured viral loads of vaccinated and unvaccinated people during the Delta wave, and found them to be similar, concluding that vaccinated people who become infected can be a source of transmission. We knew this already, of course. In fact, some of the most alarming waves of infection occurred in the most highly vaccinated countries, some of them with a vaccination rate above 90%.
One UK study examined household contacts of infected people to compare the transmission rate or secondary attack rate (SAR) of vaccinated and unvaccinated index cases, amongst vaccinated and unvaccinated household contacts. The results were quite interesting:
Vaccinated household contacts enjoyed a bit more protection against infection (25% SAR vs 38% for unvaccinated contacts), but, importantly, the vaccination status of the index case made no difference to the SAR. Quoting from the study: “SAR among household contacts exposed to fully vaccinated index cases was similar to household contacts exposed to unvaccinated index cases (25% [95% CI 15–35] for vaccinated vs 23% [15–31] for unvaccinated). 12 (39%) of 31 infections in fully vaccinated household contacts arose from fully vaccinated epidemiologically linked index cases,” meaning that a vaccinated person can as easily spread the virus to someone else as an unvaccinated person. This destroys the “unvaccinated are a danger to society” argument. You get vaccinated primarily to protect yourself, not to protect others. Others who are vaccinated are already adequately protected, at least against severe disease.
The same study also found that peak viral loads were similar between vaccinated and unvaccinated. This shows that vaccination does NOT prevent transmission of the virus, but there may be some protection for the vaccinated individual against infection. However, as this Nature article about another UK study found, this “protective effect is relatively small, and dwindles alarmingly at three months after the receipt of the second shot.” The authors lamented that “[u]nfortunately, the vaccine’s beneficial effect on Delta transmission waned to almost negligible levels over time.”
Fortunately, a fully vaccinated person is still left with valuable protection against severe disease, which might keep them out of hospital, but it is unclear to what extent this benefit still applies with the milder Omicron variant, which is more transmissible but seems to result in much lower rates of hospitalisation — as much as 91% lower based on statistics reported by South Africa’s health minister.
On balance, it appears that an unvaccinated person is hardly a greater danger to society than a vaccinated person.
This is confirmed by the huge waves of infections in highly vaccinated countries, which clearly illustrates that high levels of vaccination, and therefore a policy of mandatory vaccination, will not end this pandemic or prevent future waves of infection, because these vaccines are simply not able to prevent infection and transmission and do not induce sterilising immunity.
The real world data does not back up the popular claim that the unvaccinated are driving the pandemic and causing ongoing surges of new infections. In fact, in a recent paper in the European Journal of Epidemiology, researchers investigated the correlation between the percentage of population fully vaccinated and new Covid-19 case numbers. They studied data from 68 countries and across 2947 counties in the US. Their results confirmed that high levels of vaccination do not correspond at all with lower rates of infection. To quote from their findings:
“At the country-level, there appears to be no discernable relationship between percentage of population fully vaccinated and new Covid-19 cases in the last 7 days (Fig. 1). In fact, the trend line suggests a marginally positive association such that countries with higher percentage of population fully vaccinated have higher Covid-19 cases per 1 million people.”
This finding alone destroys the argument that mandatory vaccination is necessary and will help us end the pandemic. Vaccination should be a personal decision to lower one’s personal risk of severe disease and death.
- The vaccines must be overwhelmingly safe and present negligible risk of harm to the person receiving the jab
We now turn to the third critical requirement. Concerns about safety are perhaps the primary driver of vaccine hesitancy. If the vaccines can do no harm, there would be absolutely no reason to be vaccine hesitant.
If a vaccine can harm someone, even if the risk of harm is low, mandating such a vaccine should be considered only in the most extreme circumstances, when the potential harm of not mandating the vaccine far outweighs the risk of harm from the jab.
With the Covid-19 vaccines, this risk vs benefit calculation is not the same for everyone. It is sharply age-graduated, and linked to the person’s underlying health. A young, healthy person with no comorbidities faces a minimal risk of Covid-19, and may well feel that the potential risks of the vaccine, tiny as they are, outweigh the potential benefit. A blanket mandate completely disregards this balance, and is usually based on the public health assessment that the overall benefit of the vaccine outweighs the risk of adverse side effects, at a population level.
It would be wrong to apply such thinking to all age groups. In young males, for example, cardiac adverse events (CAE) such as myocarditis or pericarditis have caused concern among doctors following mRNA vaccination. One study found that for boys age 16-17 without medical comorbidities, “the rate of CAE is currently 2.1 to 3.5 times higher than their 120-day Covid-19 hospitalisation risk”. And although young men age 18-30 were not included in this study, a similar finding is likely. Reports indicate that cardiac adverse events are most common among teenage boys and young men in their 20’s. Despite the assurances of public health agencies that these cases are rare and can be treated, any cardiologist will tell you that myocarditis is a serious condition, can be life threatening or lead to permanent damage, and can recur later in life. Across all age groups, the UK has warned healthcare professionals that the reported myocarditis rate is around 10 cases per million for the Pfizer vaccine, and 36 cases per million for Moderna. Australia has reported 10-20 cases per million for Pfizer, and 20-30 cases per million for Moderna. This may seem low, but among young men and teenage boys the rate is much higher: 60-120 cases per million for Pfizer, and 90-170 cases per million for Moderna.
And the real scale of the problem is difficult to ascertain due to the likelihood of substantial under-reporting. I will come back to this point in a moment.
The point here is that for young males in particular, they appear to have a higher risk of ending up in hospital due to myocarditis following vaccination than due to Covid-19. In what kind of society do we consider it acceptable to mandate that young men, who are at minimal risk of Covid-19, must get vaccinated with a vaccine that may well pose a greater risk to their health than the disease being immunised against? If we’re following the science, we should not even recommend (never mind mandate) vaccinating children and young people. The very idea is quite authoritarian and contradicts the deeply cherished human values of individual liberty, and protecting our young.
Of course, the vaccine manufacturers and public health agencies who have been driving this mass vaccination campaign have consistently reassured the public that these vaccines are perfectly safe. But, considering the blatant conflict of interest that arises when a public health agency or regulatory body is partially funded by those who have billions of dollars invested in the vaccines, and considering the appalling track record of these same pharmaceutical companies, which have previously been caught hiding or manipulating safety data about their products and had to fork out billions of dollars in fines or settlements for their fraud, one can understand a certain level of skepticism at such reassuring claims about product safety.
It is a fact that these vaccines have already caused an alarming number of reports of injuries and death. The official, verified statistics are perhaps not that alarming when compared to the harm done by Covid-19 itself. If the official statistics are accurate, the harm or risk presented by Covid-19 far exceeds the harm or risk presented by the vaccines (except in the case of young people as explained above). But the official statistics on adverse events are most likely a fraction of the real picture. The US Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System (VAERS), for example, is neither definitive nor comprehensive, and is intended merely to act as a signal, but the database shows an unprecedented number of suspected adverse effects for the Covid-19 vaccines, including over 9,000 (unverified) reports of death, far exceeding those of all previous vaccines combined.
It is also true that adverse events are routinely dismissed or denied by health professionals as being related to the jabs, without proper investigation. I know of many anecdotal examples of this, and social media is flooded with vaccine injury support groups containing thousands of unverified reports of adverse events. A common complaint is that healthcare providers are often quick to dismiss the suspected adverse event as unrelated to the vaccine, without properly investigating or even reporting it as a possible vaccine-related side effect.
Although the vaccine manufacturers enjoy immunity (forgive the pun) to any liability claims, which in itself removes an important incentive to make vaccines safer, it is worth remembering that the medical professionals administering the vaccines are not immune to being sued, and they might be more likely to deny rather than acknowledge any potential links between a suspected adverse event and a recent vaccination. This can lead to systemic underreporting of adverse events. One paper estimated that fewer than 1% of all vaccine adverse events are reported, and between 1% and 13% of serious events are reported. Due to the lack of adequate follow up and reporting systems for adverse events in many countries, a number of unofficial reporting initiatives have sprung up, some of them run by doctors in their spare time. Unfortunately, anyone who raises this matter, questions the official safety data, or calls for better reporting protocols, is usually labelled and dismissed as an anti-vaxxer.
We have not touched on the small risk of other rare side effects like thrombosis, strokes, severe allergic reactions, Bell’s Palsy and other nervous system disorders, Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS), vascular disorders, auto-immune disorders, reproductive disorders, and any as yet unknown long term adverse effects that might result from these vaccines. Individually, the risk of any of these side effects is miniscule. The risk presented by Covid-19 itself is far greater. But taken together, it is undeniable that a certain level of risk exists, and given the problem of systemic under-reporting, it is quite hard to accurately quantify the risk for a given age group. Even middle aged people in good health, with optimal levels of vitamin D and no underlying comorbid conditions, face a statistically insignificant risk from Covid-19 itself and in most cases breeze through it with only mild symptoms. Should they be forced to accept the small risk of rare side effects presented by a vaccine for which there is no long term safety data? It is a perfectly reasonable question to ask by those who oppose mandatory vaccination.
This bring us to the fourth requirement that must be met before we can justify vaccine mandates.
- No other reasonable alternatives exist to prevent or treat the disease.
The idea that there is nothing we can do to help prevent a viral infection or mitigate its severity, is patently false. The vaccines are great, but the mantra that vaccines are the only way to keep ourselves safe from this virus and end the pandemic is completely unscientific, and demonstrably false.
Let’s ignore for a moment the more controversial early treatments such as Ivermectin and Hydroxychloroquine, about which medical experts are divided.
It is common knowledge that a balanced diet, sufficient sleep, fresh air, sunshine (vitamin D) and regular exercise all contribute to the health of a person’s immune system and their ability to ward off viral infections. A healthy diet, regular exercise and healthy life choices also greatly reduce the likelihood of developing chronic medical problems or lifestyle diseases such as obesity, diabetes or cardiovascular disease, which are known risk factors for Covid-19. Even life insurance companies keep this in mind when calculating risk and premiums.
Anecdotally, I have noticed a curious trend in my own social circle. Generally, with a few exceptions, those who are living a healthy lifestyle and have invested in their own health over the long term, seem to be less fearful of contracting Covid-19 and less enthusiastic about vaccine mandates compared to those who are unhealthy, unfit, obese, and smoke or drink too much. Perhaps it is understandable that those who are most at risk of severe Covid-19 are the most vocal about mandatory vaccination. But there is also a certain irony in that.
Healthy people generally have stronger immune systems, get sick less often, and are less likely to end up in hospital with lifestyle diseases, or with Covid-19. By contrast, unhealthy people are more prone to getting sick and becoming disease vectors. They are more likely to get and spread viral infections than healthy people. They are more at risk of becoming a burden on our healthcare system during a viral pandemic. A number of studies have shown that Covid-19 patients with a high body mass index (BMI) had worse outcomes and were more likely to end up in ICU or dead. The overwhelming majority, about 78% of those who filled up our hospital beds, and about 85% of those who died during this pandemic were overweight or obese people, in most cases with at least one underlying lifestyle disease.
It is ironic that many unhealthy people with high BMI are in favour of mandatory vaccination, but they are not in favour of mandatory exercise, or mandating a healthy diet. They want to be free to make unhealthy life choices and make themselves more vulnerable to disease, but when a viral pandemic hits that puts them at risk, they want to force everyone else, including those who have chosen to live healthy lives, to get vaccinated for the sake of the vulnerable. Who is the greater danger to society? If mandatory vaccination is justified because the unvaccinated are more likely to be a burden on the healthcare system, why is regular exercise and healthy living not mandated? Rhetorical question.
If we oppose mandatory exercise or dietary rules on the grounds that it imposes on a person’s right to make their own choices about their body and health, how can we possibly justify mandating a vaccine, which offers limited protection against infection and transmission, limited benefit for the young and healthy, and almost no benefit for those who have recovered from Covid-19 already?
If the “greater good” argument trumps the individual’s right to bodily integrity, then the same argument can be used to mandate regular exercise and eating a healthy diet, and to ban smoking and junk food. To be clear, I am not calling for that. I’m making a point about the absurdity of mandating something and taking away someone’s freedom to make their own life choices, on the basis that it will reduce the healthcare burden. You cannot mandate personal health choices.
Of course, my intention here is not to shame people who struggle with poor health. I understand that many people suffer from chronic health problems that do not arise from unhealthy life choices. And the elderly are vulnerable simply because they are elderly, and they certainly deserve protection. Thankfully, protection is available to them, in the form of these wonderful Covid-19 vaccines that have been developed so quickly. They offer excellent protection against severe disease and death, even for the vulnerable. Everyone who wants to, can protect themselves by getting vaccinated. However, for most young people and healthy middle aged people, as well as those who have already recovered, Covid-19 presents a very low risk and they should not be forced to get vaccinated against their will.
If we look after our bodies and our health, the human immune system is usually more than capable of warding off most pathogens, and dealing quite effectively with most viral infections, even this coronavirus. Of course, building up our natural defenses starts long before we get infected, through healthy lifestyle choices. Mandates aside, why has there been no mass campaign to encourage people to eat healthier, exercise more and live healthier lifestyles? Cardiovascular disease kills far more people than Covid-19. If governments and the media put the same energy and resources into a healthy lifestyle drive and educational campaign to reduce obesity, it will probably save far more lives in the long run than a mandatory Covid-19 vaccination campaign.
For those who get infected, there is a lot that can be done to manage the disease and mitigate its severity. Multiple studies have shown that ensuring optimum levels of vitamin D is associated with lower Covid-19 severity and mortality, and better clinical outcomes. Many doctors on the frontline have reported excellent results not only with the more controversial early treatments, but also by simply advocating for early home-based monitoring and treatment, including supplementing with vitamin C, D and Zinc, taking the right drugs at the right time, measuring blood oxygen levels, and seeking medical care as soon as symptoms worsen or oxygen saturation drops below 90%. The (paraphrased) advice to “stay home and call the ER if you turn blue” without supportive care caused many unnecessary deaths early in the pandemic. Several doctors have published comprehensive Covid-19 treatment protocols which have worked well for them. Our ability to manage Covid-19 and improve clinical outcomes with correct early treatment has grown by leaps and bounds as the pandemic progressed.
We are not without options. The vaccines are great, but vaccination is not our only weapon. There is a lot we can do to help prevent and treat Covid-19.
Let us now look at the fifth and final prerequisite.
- To justify mandatory vaccination, the risk or disease being immunised against must be sufficiently serious.
How serious is Covid-19 exactly? And how will the outcome of the pandemic differ if vaccines were mandatory rather than optional? What additional loss of life can be expected if we do not make vaccination compulsory?
That Covid-19 is serious is beyond question. But let’s look at a few markers to help us evaluate the severity of the risk to humanity.
The deadly Spanish Flu from 1918-1920 is estimated to have killed somewhere between 20-50 million people, or close to 3% of the world’s population. By contrast, Covid-19 has so far killed about 5.3 million people in two years. That represents about 0.07% of the global population.
How deadly is Covid-19? The overall infection fatality rate (IFR) of Covid has been estimated to be between 0.1% and 0.2%. Quoting from an analysis by Professor John P.A. Ioannidis of multiple studies which calculated inferred IFR by seroprevalence data:
“Interestingly, despite their differences in design, execution, and analysis, most studies provide IFR point estimates that are within a relatively narrow range. Seven of the 12 inferred IFRs are in the range 0.07 to 0.20 (corrected IFR of 0.06 to 0.16) which are similar to IFR values of seasonal influenza. Three values are modestly higher (corrected IFR of 0.25-0.40 in Gangelt, Geneva, and Wuhan) and two are modestly lower than this range (corrected IFR of 0.02-0.03 in Kobe and Oise).” (emphasis mine).
For people under 60, the IFR is much lower still. And for vaccinated people, the risk of death from Covid-19 is reduced about ten fold.
For a vaccinated person, the risk of Covid-19 is no worse than seasonal influenza.
And this was before Omicron, the new variant which looks set to become the dominant strain around the world in the coming weeks, and so far appears to cause much milder symptoms and a much lower fatality rate. Why are we still in panic mode?
Over the last two years, there were roughly 120 million all cause deaths. Only 5.3 million of those (less than 5% of all deaths) were Covid-19 deaths. Thanks to the media’s scaremongering, there are many people who seem to think that Covid-19 was the leading cause of death in 2020 and 2021. Based on historical mortality data we can estimate that deaths due to cardiovascular disease probably exceeded 40 million over the last two years, while cancer deaths are likely to have exceeded 20 million. That reality does not nullify or make light of the tragic 5.3 million Covid-19 deaths so far. But it helps to put Covid-19 in perspective.
Global daily deaths from Covid-19 peaked at the end of January 2021, soon after mass vaccination began. The 7-day moving average is now less than half of what it was at the peak, and since October 2021 has been lower than the very first peak in April 2020. We expect to see the daily death toll continue declining as the pandemic peters out and Omicron takes over.
Interestingly, even without mandates, almost half the world’s population has been fully vaccinated already. Many countries have achieved exceptionally high levels of Covid-19 vaccination, with more than 80% of eligible people vaccinated. All those vaccinated people are already well protected against severe disease and death from Covid-19.
Let’s assume, for the sake of argument, that most countries can get 70% of their adult population vaccinated without mandates. Some will reach a higher percentage, some lower. When calculating the potential harm that can result from not mandating vaccines, we have to assess the impact of the remaining 30% on the pandemic and on society.
We’ve already seen from the most highly vaccinated countries that forcing those 30% to vaccinate will not stop the spread. We’ve already mentioned that the other 70% are well protected against severe disease. We know that both vaccinated and unvaccinated people can get infected and spread the virus.
We now have to consider the nature of the Omicron variant, and the normal evolution of a viral pandemic. Typically, as a respiratory virus mutates, it becomes less virulent but more transmissible. This is how the Spanish Flu pandemic ended. Over three years and four distinct waves, the virus that caused it became endemic as a less serious, seasonal influenza virus.
We appear to be close to that point in this pandemic. The Omicron variant is highly transmissible, but that is not necessarily a bad thing. It is to be expected. Early data from South Africa shows that it also leads to less severe disease, with much lower rates of hospitalisation and death. Doctors are reporting milder symptoms than for previous variants. If a milder, more transmissible variant is able to displace Delta as the dominant variant, that could well signal the beginning of the end of the pandemic. This is likely to happen regardless of whether the remaining 30% of adults are forced to get vaccinated.
Put simply, the low risk presented by the Omicron variant does not justify a policy of mandatory vaccination. Nor does Omicron justify continuing lockdowns, travel bans, border closures and other societal restrictions, which have caused immense collateral damage and economic hardship.
It is time to consign the fear-based, authoritarian approach to managing this pandemic to the dustbin of history, and let everyone get on with their lives without government interference.
The debate about mandatory vaccination will continue. And some of the points I touched on also remain subject to debate. But overall we have seen that none of the five criteria to justify a policy of compulsory vaccination are adequately met. Even if my analysis is off the mark, and some of the five criteria were met, it should be clear from an objective, rational and scientific point of view that there is not sufficient justification for vaccine mandates in the case of Covid-19 vaccines.
My background is in biological science. I read a lot and my opinions are informed by thorough research of the science and data. We all have some level of bias but I try my best to remain objective, rational and open-minded. In my view, the biggest danger to society during this pandemic is not people who choose to remain vaccine free, for whatever reason. The biggest danger to society is the creeping authoritarianism we are witnessing, the corruption of science, and the slow erosion of individual liberties, freedom of opinion, freedom of speech and freedom of movement, all in the name of public health. I am worried about the normalisation of extreme views and the marginalisation of the moderate centre. I am alarmed at the censorship of reputable doctors and scientists who have dared to question the public health response, or warned about the dangers of mass vaccination during a pandemic, or shared treatment protocols that in their experience on the front line have worked and saved many lives. I am deeply concerned about the influence and interference in science by those who have certain political or financial agendas. I am shocked at Dr Andrew Hill’s admission that those who fund a Cochrane review get to have a say in the conclusion, in order to further a specific agenda. I am appalled at the conflict of interest when regulatory bodies and public health agencies are funded by the manufacturers of the very products being regulated or promoted.
I am uncomfortable with the power of the multi-billion dollar vaccine industry to purchase influence, lobby for certain outcomes and dictate public health policy. I am dismayed at the willingness of policy makers to listen to advisors who have a terrible track record of exaggeration, and whose flawed computer models always seem to predict the worst possible outcomes, resulting in extremely damaging and unnecessary policy decisions. I am angered by the lack of accountability, and the tendency of government officials to double down on their folly rather than admit when they were wrong. I am livid at the arrogance of officials forcing small businesses to close and destroying millions of livelihoods, but then breaking their own restrictions because the rules never apply to them. And it bothers me that this slide into authoritarianism is enabled by a compliant mainstream media who are addicted to hype and fearmongering headlines, and are all too often beholden to their paymasters to promote a certain narrative and silence any dissenting voices.
If you are concerned about the common good, start challenging the corruption and politicisation of science. Start challenging censorship and the decay of critical thinking. Start challenging the assault on liberty and our descent into authoritarianism and dogmatism.
“Those who would give up essential liberty, to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.” – Benjamin Franklin
- Onne Vegter is a writer, educator and entrepreneur with a degree in biological science. Follow him on Quora or Twitter @OnneVegter
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