How much freedom are we going to surrender?

I saw this post on a friend’s timeline on Facebook:

I had previously decided not to respond through social media, but rather through this blog, however, I had had a drink and my devil got the better of me. This is what I wrote:

I have just seen this and cannot believe that anyone would make this post. People appear to be so quick to surrender their freedom of self-determination. Celebrating a vaccine that does not work, that the companies producing it have put the price up for, and for which they are now preparing people for booster shots (because it does not work), does not seem like an act of loyalty; no wage is worth surrendering your freedom of choice, least of all when it is your body that they are demand(ing) is put on the line!

Let me start with some points of clarification:

First, does the vaccines work? Here in the UK, the government, through the Department of Health, are stating that even people who have been vaccinated can still contract and transmit Covid-19. In defence they are claiming that it ‘might’ stop those who do become infected from developing serious symptoms. It is already accepted that between 60 to 70% of those who have contracted the virus experience either no or very slight symptoms. Of those who do fall ill over 90% recover. The mortality rate is less than 3% of those who test positive. It is not known how many of the 7% who developed serious symptoms but survived where vaccinated before contracting the virus.
If the vaccines worked then it would be logical to assume that infection rates would fall, but they have in fact risen. Coincidently, the mortality rate has stayed approximately the same.

https://petercwhitaker.wordpress.com/2021/08/05/a-comparison-of-reported-statistics-for-covid-19-in-2021-from-may-to-august/

Second, on August 1st, 2021, The Financial Times reported that both Pfizer and Moderna raised the price of the Covid vaccine to the EU, the first by 25% and the latter by 10%.

https://www.ft.com/content/d415a01e-d065-44a9-bad4-f9235aa04c1a

Third, in Britain, the Public Health Act 1984 specifically states that members of the public should not be compelled to undergo any mandatory medical treatment, including vaccinations. The current government appear intent on removing this piece of legislature, however.

In addition to the points above I am worried by another consideration that I find reflected in some of the responses to my post on Facebook, which I will quote here:

1.  I am damn proud that my employer believes in science.

2.  You want your job, then get down to the doctor and get the shot.

3.  Hopefully soon all international travel and entry to all museums, clubs, shops and social venues will be back to normal for those who are vaccinated and completely forbidden to those who choose not to be vaccinated (with exemptions for the tiny minority who might have genuine health reasons for not getting vaccinated). The vaccines work spectacularly well by the way.

I infer from the first two responses that the freedom to choose was not considered important, I suppose that is their choice. Neither appear to see coercion as a problem. I do, however. If the evidence proved conclusively that a vaccine would protect against a deadly virus then yes, I can see the importance of having it, but Covid-19 is not a deadly virus and, as already stated above, the vaccines do not appear to work. I have more chance of developing cancer, 1 in 2 according to the latest figures, and more chance of dying from it; it has a 50% mortality rate. Almost as many people die from the combined figures for smoking and alcohol abuse annually as have died from Covid-19.

As it happens, I am in the 60 to 70% of people who contracted Covid-19 and suffered only slight symptoms; I thought I had a cold. Having been exposed to a virus that was admirably dealt with by my own immune system I do not see the point exposing myself to a vaccine that does not appear to offer any better form of protection.

However, it is the third response that worries me the most. The first two seem to accept coercion, this one wants to actively use it to remove personal freedoms from individuals who are making a contrary choice to themselves. They are proposing draconian measures that benefit the group with which they identify and consciously discriminate against those who do not belong to it. I wonder how those exemptions ‘for the tiny minority who might have genuine health reasons for not getting vaccinated’ are going to be recorded and displayed; with a symbol on their jackets perhaps? How long before that measure is extended to those who have exercised their freedom of choice by not to having a vaccine that does not appear to work? Jane Elliott’s Blue Eyes/ Brown Eyes experiment was intended to be an educational lesson on how discrimination works, not a template for its use on a much greater social canvas, but I see that happening more and more.

3 thoughts on “How much freedom are we going to surrender?

  1. As the person who wrote the response on social media which Peter disagreed with most strongly I will clarify my position here.

    Firstly let me state some things which are blatantly obvious about the difference between Peter’s views on this topic and my own. Peter has made it clear in his blog and on other social media that he firmly identifies with the minority who dispute the seriousness of Covid-19, who tend to be against most social restrictions (such as mask wearing) to control the spread of the virus, and who question the need for and effectiveness of the vaccines which have been developed to fight the illness.

    For once I am in the majority camp who take another view. Like the majority of scientific and public opinion, I believe Coronavirus poses a grave threat to public health (including a significant risk of death or serious long term disability) and that this in turn has very serious economic and social effects as well. Furthermore I am convinced that mask wearing and other public health restrictions have significantly reduced the spread of the virus. Finally, I believe all the serious scientific evidence shows that the vaccines are highly effective at preventing death or serious illness and also somewhat effective at reducing the spread of the virus.

    Peter and I have debated these issues many times. He will site evidence from sources that I don’t believe or will selectively use facts and figures from serious sites out of context in order to try and prove points. And yes, I do the same… I tend to focus on more mainstream sights which Peter has a problem with. And so we trade quotes and sources and dispute everything the other one says. It has been this way for 18 months and there is no point in covering the same ground again.

    In the above post Peter has tried to focus on the idea of personal rights and freedoms and has implied that the response I made sounded “draconian”.

    He is correct to some degree. I am well aware that the idea that those who are not vaccinated should have less rights than others sounds harsh. But it is all about context. Peter’s context is that the pandemic isn’t really as serious as most believe, restrictions of any kind have little value and that the vaccines are potentially dangerous and don’t work very well anyway. Thus I can understand his reluctance to accept that the non vaccinated should have draconian restrictions placed upon them.

    But my context is different as explained previously, I think Covid is very dangerous, restrictions and vaccines DO work. (And whether Peter wants to accept it or not, this is the MAJORITY SCIENTIFIC opinion).

    I am sure one thing we have in common is that we both want our lives to get back to normal as soon as possible. From my point of view, those who refuse to get vaccinated are slowing down the recovery for the rest of us; their “freedom” not to get vaccinated is reducing freedoms for the rest of us; the majority. The longer the virus remains in circulation the longer it will take for communities and economies to recover to their pre-pandemic norms.

    I did say there should be exceptions for the tiny minority who would be at risk from the vaccine. Peter seemed to think there was something sinister about that… Not at all! In fact Germany and the EU already have a system in place. You can get a certificate of “immunity” rather than vaccination if your doctor agrees that you have had Covid and recovered. If anyone has special concerns for example because of pregnancy or a history of allergic reactions, their doctor can also sign them off as immune.

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    • I have never stated that I identify with any minority group other than that of being a disabled person. Regardless of which, neither the state of being in a minority or a majority imbues the arguments being made with any greater truth. It is the inherent reason of such arguments, supported by empirical evidence, that confers the advantage.

      Does your belief rest on faith or fact? If it is the former, then it is entirely subjective and really not the basis for a reasoned argument. If it is the latter, then you should be able to support your assertions by reference to empirical evidence that withstands scrutiny. This is where I have always had a problem with your argument. You constantly avoid providing references to support your vague claims, whether for scientific support or otherwise. At the same time, you attempt to undermine the facts I present by attacking some of the sources I use. If the facts are correct, however, the source is unimportant. Why not try dealing with those facts for a change? Prove to me that they are incorrect! Give me the facts that support your argument and not just a vague claim regarding opinion, scientific or otherwise. My post includes facts linked by references, including statistics used by the world’s governments. Are these facts wrong? If you think that they are then prove it! I am not interested in personal opinions; I want the truth. I am prepared to be informed by it and, if proven to be wrong, to change my argument accordingly. That is not going to happen when all the facts that I can assemble to prove my point go unchallenged on the same level.

      My opposition to your proposed draconian restrictions arises not from the subject of Covid-19 but rather from a knowledge of how such justifications to alienate, denigrate, and subjugate minorities has worked in the past. It is one of the reasons why I value history. We have made all these mistakes previously; you really do not need me to make reference to any of the many historical events that prove where this path leads.

      Personally, I do not expect that life will ever return to what it was before February 2020. Covid-19 is here to stay. A vaccine that neither stops you from contracting nor transmitting a highly contagious virus is not going to deliver a return to normality (whatever that might be to anyone). The most recent studies are suggesting that people are being infected with the Delta variant whether vaccinated or not, hence the rise in positive cases. Covid-19 will make billions for the pharmaceutical industry and it will further erode our personal freedoms; that is my conclusion.

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