Features Australia

Catch 2022

Damned if you’re vaxxed, damned if you’re not

15 January 2022

9:00 AM

15 January 2022

9:00 AM

In Joseph Heller’s satirical novel set on an American airforce base during the second world war, Captain John Yossarian is trying to stay alive, if necessary by feigning insanity to avoid flying an ever-escalating number of missions. But, as Heller explains, ‘there was only one catch and that was Catch-22.’ It specified that a pilot would be crazy to want to fly more missions and sane if he didn’t want to, trapping Yossarian in a web of contradictory regulations with no possible means of escape.

In Australia, Catch 2022 requires that you have to be double vaccinated to compete in elite sporting tournaments, but if you get vaccinated, you may be in no condition to compete. This is not just the dilemma facing Novak Djokovic, the first athlete in history to be penalised for not taking a drug.

Consider 29-year-old Georgian tennis star Nikoloz Basilashivili, seeded no. 22 in the world, who was forced to withdraw from Sydney’s ATP Cup on 5 January because he had trouble breathing and experienced chest pain, symptoms of myocarditis, a recognised side-effect of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines that occurs with greatest frequency in healthy males aged under 30 years.

Women are also at risk. Triple-vaccinated Swiss marathon record holder Fabienne Schlumpf was diagnosed with myocarditis last week, shortly after her booster shot, putting her career on hold for the foreseeable future. Still, both can count themselves lucky. Joseph Keating, a healthy 26-year-old from South Dakota, died of myocarditis just four days after his Pfizer booster shot. An autopsy confirmed his death was caused by the jab.

Elite athletes are aware of the risks that vaccination poses. As Portuguese tennis star Joao Sousa explained, ‘Many players — not my case — didn’t want to get vaccinated and were forced to do it to be able to play tournaments.’

Dr Peter McCullough, an internationally renowned cardiologist told investigative journalist Maryanne Demasi that studies showing an increased rates of myocarditis in young men could be just the tip of the iceberg. ‘If the background rate is 4 per million per year, we now have vaccine-induced myocarditis rates that are around 200 to 400 per million in a year. …Once they start getting boosted, the numbers could run up to 600 to 800 per million per year.’

Yet the dangers vaccines pose to athletes are brushed aside in favour of demonising the one man who has dared to assert the right not to be injected. Once a court overturned Djokovic’s detention, focus shifted to why he didn’t isolate after testing positive. Channel 7 TV reporters Rebecca Maddern and Mike Amor called him a ‘lying, sneaky a—hole’ for going out when he was Covid positive.’

Oh, the irony. Across the nation, supermarket shelves are empty and critical services threatened by the requirement of workers who test positive and their close contacts to isolate. Prime Minister Scott Morrison is in crisis talks to decide which essential industries should be exempt from the rules to try to maintain precarious supply chains. Already, asymptomatic healthcare workers who are close contacts of infected people have been exempted from isolation unless they develop symptoms.

The determination of the federal government to drag out the Djokovic drama is astounding. This week, the Prime Minister took the time to explain to his Serbian counterpart how Australia’s tough border laws had kept deaths low. Really? Banning the unvaccinated from travel didn’t keep either the Delta or Omicron variants out of the country; both arrived courtesy of double-vaccinated travellers and despite almost 95 per cent of the population being vaccinated, more than 90,000 Australians are being infected daily, one of the fastest rates of infection in the world, outstripping the UK and the US.

Is the mass vaccination program helping? Not according to Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla who said on Monday that double vaccination ‘offers very limited protection, if any (against the Omicron variant)’ and a booster shot offers only ‘reasonable protection’ against hospitalisation and death from Omicron and ‘less protection against infection’. To make matters worse, European Union regulators warned this week that frequent booster shots could adversely affect the immune system and may not be feasible.

Everyone from former world number one Boris Becker to the editorial writer at the Australian Financial Review has been telling Djokovic to just get vaccinated. But as even the ABC’s website advised, after infection, ‘based on vaccinology principles, it would be reasonable to consider waiting at least three months’ or ‘up to six months if preferred.’

Morrison claims that the ‘majority’ of those in hospital are unvaccinated but is that true? It’s impossible to know. NSW is the only state that publishes the vaccination status of those that are hospitalised, but it puts the unvaccinated together with those who have had their first vaccination jab in the previous three weeks.

Yet as diagnostic pathologist Dr Clare Craig pointed out in a letter published in the British Medical Journal in March last year, the original Pfizer trial demonstrated a 40 per cent increase in ‘suspected Covid’ in the vaccination arm in the first week of the trial compared with the placebo arm, a Danish study showed a 40 per cent increase in infections in the first two weeks after a Pfizer injection and both the Pfizer and AstraZeneca trials showed that vaccination causes a transient fall in white blood cells for the first three days after vaccination which increases the risk of infection.

The numbers of the ‘unvaccinated’ are also inflated by those who suffer vaccine injuries and deaths. In Tennessee last month, Dr Dmitri Ndina died of blood clots shortly after receiving the first dose of the Pfizer vaccine but was reported by local media as dying of Covid. In NSW he’d have been counted as an ‘unvaccinated’ death.

What the NSW data does shows is that almost three quarters of all people infected in the week before Christmas were fully vaccinated and only 6 per cent were ‘unvaccinated’. So much for the threat posed by the unvaccinated, the benefits of the vaccine.

Everyone knows that the main reason for attacking Djokovic is to curry favour with voters ahead of the federal election. Last week, French President Emmanuel Macron, who, like Morrison, faces an election in a few months, said he wanted to make life so difficult for the unvaccinated that they would cave in and be jabbed. After everything they’ve already endured, at this stage, that seems unlikely. The real threat Djokovic poses is not to anyone’s health but to the narrative that young, healthy people ever needed to get vaccinated at all.

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