Features Australia

The empty moral posturing of attacks on vaccine hesitants

Covid has turned our civilised principles upside down

9 October 2021

9:00 AM

9 October 2021

9:00 AM

Our so-called leaders are so blinded with the lockdown cult that they would stubbornly refuse to see reality even if it hit them hard on their faces and knocked them out.

Last Saturday, just before Melbourne became the city with the world’s most number of days in lockdown, Victoria reported 1,488 new cases in the previous 24 hours. Canberra, in lockdown since 12 August with just one case, reported a record 52 new cases each on 1 and 2 October, with 27 of the combined total of 104 having been in quarantine for their entire infectious period.

Meanwhile, the public finger-wagging and hectoring of Gladys Berejiklian by Dan Andrews notwithstanding, NSW daily cases fell to 813. Yet by some perverse and twisted logic, those of us who have questioned the effectiveness and demanded evidence of benefits versus harms analysis of lockdown are the ones attacked for denying reality.

The same ‘logic’ has been operating on vaccines. Riddle me this. On the one hand, the big multinational pharmaceutical companies making the Covid-19 vaccines insist they are highly effective and perfectly safe. On the other hand, they demanded and were granted indemnity against liability from harmful effects caused by the vaccines. If Big Pharma is so sure of their vaccines’ safety why insist on an indemnity? It’s a testament to the power of manipulation when Big Pharma, Big Tech and big government converge on a single point of ‘vaccine truth’ that the masses have come to believe everyone must be vaccinated, by choice or coercion.

There are three issues in particular surrounding vaccine hesitancy that deserve dissecting: the anti-vaxxer smear, the fallacious free-rider argument and the ‘selfishness’ accusation.

All of us lie on occasion. Only those who do so habitually are ‘liars’, although anyone who claims never to have lied may also be called a liar. Similarly, anti-vaxxers are those who object to vaccination in general and reject most vaccines in practice. Those who have no problem with most standard childhood and flu vaccines for the elderly in principle or practice, but remain doubtful of the risk-benefit equation of Covid vaccines, are mocked as anti-vaxxers only by those who are intellectually lazy, in which case they should be ignored, or those who are intentionally malicious and should be called out. The curious thing is that from the beginning, lockdown sceptics have tried to reason with science and data while governments and their cult followers have deployed tactics of mass psychological nudging and emotional blackmail to vilify the conscientious objectors. For governments this has been helpful in deflecting attention from their own neglect of public health; for people it leads to fear and anger displacement from the government to the non-compliant.

A misleading claim would point to Technical Briefing 23 from Public Health England  that of the 2,542 Covid-related deaths 1 February – 12 September, 63 per cent were fully vaccinated and 28 per cent unvaccinated. This does not mean that the vaccinated are 2.2 times more likely to die if infected. The bald statistic must be doubly disaggregated. For one thing, 97 per cent of the vaccinated deaths are in the over-fifties. For another, among under-fifties, the vaccinated are 23 per cent of the dead and the unvaccinated 65 per cent.

It’s more accurate to look at fatalities among the infected by this age divide. There’s no difference in mortality for the under-fifties but over-fifties are 3.2 times more likely to die if unvaccinated. As someone in my seventies, I conclude Covid is 4-5 times likelier to prove fatal without vaccination and, against the tiny risks of serious side-effects, the rational decision is to get vaccinated.

Personally, I’d have preferred to wait for the Novavax but for pressing circumstances. No one else – not my GP, not the government – has a greater interest in my health than me. The risk-benefit calculus is different again for the under-forties and becomes very heavily skewed lower down the age ladder.

As argued in several previous articles in this magazine, vaccines have failed to live up to their initial inflated claims on efficacy and risks. As the efficacy against transmission fell apart, the argument for compulsory vaccination shifted to the moral hazard of free-riding to ‘take advantage of the majority of people behaving appropriately to break the rules and thus attain a personal advantage’. Free-riding arises when one actor benefits from the provision of a collective good without paying a fair share of the cost. The US has often accused NATO allies of unfair burden-sharing. The free-riding charge was also levelled by Australia and the US at anti-nuclear New Zealand in the 1980s. With vaccines, there’s zero extra cost borne by the vaccinated. On the contrary, the taxes of the unvaccinated subsidise ‘free’ vaccines for others and the extra risks of severe illness and death are also borne by the unvaccinated. In both respects all the health and financial advantage is gained solely by the vaccinated.

Calls to exclude the unjabbed from the vaccinated economy are rooted in spite. The scolds and sneers detest the deplorables but dress up their intolerance as virtue to feel good about it. This is best seen in demands by some that the unvaccinated who get seriously sick should be denied hospital care. Imagine there are four beds available in ICU. Seven ambulances arrive with a drug addict who has overdosed, a lifelong heavy smoker with breathing difficulty, a failed suicide attempt, an obese person with heart issues, an unvaccinated person with Covid, a vaccinated person with blood clotting and a badly burned firefighter. Which three, and by what vice-virtue calculation, should be denied hospitalisation? It’s simpler, faster and morally better to treat those in urgent need of medical care based on triage.

Are not the vaccine-hesitant being selfish? No. Selfish is demanding everyone be put under house arrest because I don’t feel safe. Selfish is the petulant provincialism of state border closures so Queensland hospitals can be reserved for Queenslanders.

Selfish is the rich outbidding poor countries for booster third jabs before the latter’s first jabs. Selfish is the panic run on toilet paper rolls. Selfish is destroying the future of young who are least at risk for a few more months of existing without living by the elderly most at risk. Nature expects adults to protect the young. Covid mania has turned nature upside down. This is depraved and a sign that society has lost its moral moorings. So don’t come a-waltzing morality on me.

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