FOR MANY Gen-Xers, born during the twentieth century, the prospect of a world free of epidemics and disease has proven an alluring chimera. Instead of marshalling our efforts on developing a vaccine for SARS (2003), our fragile world got caught by the perfect storm.
Millennials who grew up enjoying the benefits of ‘herd immunity’, mass immunisation programmes and inoculations from previous generations, turned into pundits of anti-vaccine conspiracy, as measles returned, and the SARS virus came back 17 years later, with a more infectious sister-clade. SARS-Cov-2, (let’s just call it SARS2?)
The past weeks saw the world wake to a living hell, an episode straight out of World War Z and the Zombie Apocalypse. The exact same economic scenarios depicted by modellers shortly after the first SARS epidemic. One depicts a world economy during a period 2002-2081 in total decline as a result of social distancing and quarantines.
After a long global boom period in which the bulls outweighed the bears, we woke to extreme volatility, unprecedented in financial history, and the prospect that the COVID-19 epidemic could be with us for years to come, anywhere from 18-24 months.
The problem is that without a working phase 2 vaccine and mass immunisation programme we are stuck in quarantine mode, a crude method of containment no different from measures taken during Ancient times.
Containment is likely to suppress the virus, but it looks set to come back in waves if we do nothing. China is currently experiencing imported infections. The cure may turn out to be worse than the disease. Is this how freedom dies, asked one online pundit?
Normality must be restored, and freedom can only repaired via immunisation programmes that default in favour of those who are vaccinated, protecting the rights of the free, versus the rights of those who simply wish us to return to Bible Ages. Whither the Anti-Vax movement?
Should vaccines be mandatory?
Who decides and how do we move away from a slippery slope which is surely contrary to human rights such as the right to bodily integrity, a pillar central to our Constitution?
What about the right to die?
Do we have the right to become infected?
The previous HIV epidemic should guide us. Nobody was ever arrested for getting HIV, but many people in various countries have been prosecuted for seeking to infect others.
Shutting down our free and open societies can only ever be considered a stop-gap measure until a working vaccine arrives. Or as one online hack put it, ‘its only quarantine if its from the French province of Quarantine, everything else is just sparkling isolation.’
Introducing curfews and restrictions on mass meetings and movement can only ever be temporary. Restrictions under Disaster and Emergency legislation, all have limitations.
There must be a Constitutional timeline and guarantee from our government that our liberty will be restored.
Unless we do this, we are no different from any totalitarian state.