Glenda Grey & Cheadle silent as WHO declares official end to Covid pandemic

THE head of the UN World Health Organization (WHO) has declared an end to COVID-19 as a public health emergency, stressing that it ‘does not mean the disease is no longer a global threat’. The move vindicates Medialternatives earlier prognosis based upon historical public health data indicating that respiratory epidemics ‘last no longer than two years on average’.

In this respect, extra-Constitutional proposals for compulsory, involuntary vaccination ( a removal of patient consent under article 12), mooted by Glenda Grey and that legal huckster Halton Cheadle, appear to have been made in haste and sans consideration of the overall impact upon our democratic and free society. You can read my earlier pieces directed at creeping totalitarianism and its crackpot advocates such as Pierre de Vos, who was amongst the first to lump ordinary citizens within the ranks of the criminally insane.

The WHO announcement should give democracies pause to consider the cost and effectiveness of containment strategies rolled out during the height of the pandemic back in 2020, and cause all of us to reconsider the legal ramifications of a hasty resort to draconian ‘special measures’ under the rubric of public health and solidarity? Need I remind readers of the National Coronovirus Council and its special state of disaster?

The economic impact of successive lockdowns is still being felt by those countries like our own, which unlike Sweden, embraced containment as a public health strategy, with serious socio-economic consequences.

As much of the world shut down early in the COVID pandemic, Sweden remained open. The country’s approach was controversial writes researcher Emma Frans, with some calling it “the Swedish experiment”. But more than three years after the pandemic began, what can we say today about the outcomes of this “experiment”?

Frans explains Sweden ‘largely stuck to its pandemic plan, originally developed to be used in the event of an influenza pandemic. Instead of lockdowns, the goal was to achieve social distancing through public health recommendations.”

‘Swedes were encouraged to work from home if possible and limit travel within the country. In addition, people aged 70 or older were asked to limit social contact, and people with COVID symptoms were asked to self-isolate. The goal was to protect the elderly and other high-risk groups while slowing down the spread of the virus so the healthcare system wouldn’t become overwhelmed.’

‘As the number of cases surged, some restrictions were imposed. Public events were limited to a maximum of 50 people in March 2020, and eight people in November 2020. Visits to nursing homes were banned and upper secondary schools closed. Primary schools did, however, remain open throughout the pandemic.’

Although Sweden was hit hard by the first wave,” Frans who is a “senior research specialist, C8 Department of Medical Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Karolinska Institute” says, the country’s total excess deaths during the first two years of the pandemic, “were actually among the lowest in Europe‘.’

While noting the plan was not without its flaws, and the ongoing controversy over the overall impact upon the elderly and infirm, at least during the first stages, Frans concludes: “the focus of Sweden’s strategy was to reduce the spread of the virus, but also to consider other aspects of public health and protect freedom and fundamental rights. While the Swedish strategy remains controversial, today most countries are taking similar approaches …”

It remains to be seen whether South Africa’s resident ‘experts’ on health and legal matters, those who made headlines during the pandemic, proposing draconian extra-constitutional measures without much opposition nor debate, will retract their former pronouncements?

READ: Mandates: Statist power grab undermines personal autonomy as well as collective rights

READ: Mandates: Public peril or just plain baloney?

Radical birthkeeper, a non-traditional birth attendant controversy?

IN 2005 the earlier apartheid-era Nursing Act was redrafted to provide a ‘democratic sheen’. Gone was the French term ‘accoucheur’, meaning ‘one who assists at birth’ usually a ‘male midwife or obstetrician’. Colonial distinctions between midwife and pupil were instead replaced by several new categories including, ‘midwife’, ‘learner midwife and ‘auxiliary midwife’. No allowance for complementary or Traditional Birth Attendants (TBAs) was deemed necessary by the drafters.

According to the World Health Organisation 22% of all births are performed in the world by TBAs particularly in underserviced areas and rural communities. In countries where TBAs have been encouraged to work in more collaborative ways with formal health systems, and community-based ‘Skilled Birth Attendants’ (SBAs), they were able to overcome the rivalry that existed between them and ‘facility-based staff’.

Historically the role of TBAs is one that has been usurped by the Colonial Authorities. In particular the history of Nursing in South Africa reflects an over-emphasis of Western norms and standards (some would say for good reason), with a resulting centralisation of care and authority, and an undermining and de-emphasis of the power of woman-hood. The result is that not everyone can afford a professional midwife in private practice.

“When programmes used broad participatory approaches to design new models of care which included TBAs, and where TBAs were given clearly defined roles (such as birth companions or interpreters for women during labour and birth) they were more readily accepted …” write Tina Miller & Helen Smith in ‘Seminars in Perinatology‘ (2019).

Where the earlier apartheid Nursing Act (1978) failed to define midwifery, the new democratic version defines “midwifery” as certification, referring ‘to a caring profession practised by persons registered under [the Act], which supports and assists the health care user and in particular the mother and baby, to achieve and maintain optimum health during pregnancy, all stages of labour and the puerperium‘ i.e. six weeks from childbirth.

The act itself is, for all intents and purposes, the self-same colonial framework predicated upon the Medical Model introduced into the country by Western Medicine, with the only exemptions from the aegis of the act, being those actions ‘conducted during an emergency.’ It thus blatantly neglects TBAs and consequently forgets almost a quarter of births occurring in the country (and this tentative figure may be even higher!). In the process these births are effectively rendered invisible by the system and its emphasis on professionalism, under a status quo where traditional midwifery is swept under the carpet.

Enter a controversy

Enter the Traditional Health Practitioners Act, enacted in 2007 to “establish the Interim Traditional Health Practitioners Council of South Africa; to provide for a regulatory framework to ensure the efficacy, safety and quality of traditional health care services; …” An instrument which defines TBAs as” a person who engages in traditional health practice and is registered as a traditional birth attendant,” and thus operating much in the same vein of the Nursing Act, save for its emphasis on registration rather than certification.

The latest controversy regards amateur birth practitioners, lay midwives, radical birthkeepers, traditional birth attendants and doulas (hereafter home-birthers) and at the face, revolves around interpretation of the above two acts, our Constitution and also natural law.

The resulting Carte Blanche documentary “Radical Birthkeeper” proceeds apace without any context other than the Medical Model and seems to suggest that home-birthers should be placed in the same category as back-street abortionists, fraudulent plastic surgeons and all those who wish to provide hospice patients the right to die and dignity in death.

Worse still, the documentary creates the impression that our public health system is abundantly resourced and more than willing to provide professional midwives for gratis, is otherwise supportive of home-birth, in a situation where the infant mortality rate for a professional practice is claimed to be “2 in 20 years” (Carte Blanche) or “Zero” (M&G) and that ‘if only the persons concerned had utilised this free service, all would be well?’ I note too that the days of GPs arriving to deliver home births are long gone.

About 99% of maternal and newborn deaths occur in low and middle income countries, globally amounting to about 500 000 maternal deaths and 8 million peri-neonatal deaths per year. While the trend in South Africa is downward, (if one ignores the past two years), the country still experiences some 12 000 perinatal deaths per year, mainly due to complications of pregnancy, labour and delivery.

The documentary is loosely based on a slightly more informative article published by the Mail & Guardian which raises several issues to do with infringement of the Nursing Act, the subject’s efforts to certify their midwifery practice, the role of Traditional Birth Attendants and the Free Birth Society as well as testimony by Angela Wakeford, a registered midwife. No real stats are provided by either of these contributions.

Here is how this pandemic ends, Mr Cheadle

OMICRON has a normal Cold virus insertion 214EPE as part of its mutation and is developing into a less pathogenic virus, at the same time it appears that hospitalisations and death rates are decoupling from case loads, which continue to skyrocket. As John Campbell MD puts it, “the virus caught a cold” (see below).

Reuters are reporting that the Omicron variant of the virus that causes COVID-19 ‘likely acquired at least one of its mutations by picking up a snippet of genetic material from another virus – possibly one that causes the common cold – present in the same infected cells.’

Netcare has found that there appears to be a decoupling of the rate of community transmission and the rate of hospital admissions, meaning that ‘fewer people end up in hospital than the official infection figures might suggest’.

“This is what we saw with the Spanish flu. We call it an antigenic drift. The Spanish flu never went away. It stopped killing people but it morphed into what we know is a very highly transmissible influenza or flu-like virus that is still with us today,” says Richard Friedland, Netcare CEO.

This is an entirely normal sequence of events, as the coronovirus becomes endemic and the pandemic winds down. As I wrote in September most respiratory pandemics last no more than two years, with the black death a five year affair.

Professor Frode Forland, director of infectious diseases at the Norwegian Institute of Public Health, says: ‘It might be that it has now replicated and mutated so many times that this is the optimal position from the virus’ point of view, to spread widely and not kill the hosts.

‘That’s what we’ve seen with other diseases beforehand. And of course, then it gets into more like an endemic phase.’

Scientists have long predicted the coronavirus is unlikely to ever be eradicated but will instead transition into a milder cold-like virus as the world develops stronger immunity. 

Of course there is one huge caveat, this could all change if Covid itself, decouples from the history of respiratory disease and instead of natural evolution, is being manipulated in the lab. But let us assume that what is occurring is zoonotic transmission and the pandemic is entirely natural and not man-made.

Barring some unforeseen event, like a mad scientist in a dark lab, manipulating the genome, one can predict, based upon past experience, the end of this saga sometime in early 2022 (fingers crossed).

Since public health policy in South Africa is being set by non-scientists like Halton Cheadle and his crony Glenda Grey, and other law school frat boys (see here) we are likely to see the introduction of strict vaccine mandates at the same time that the pandemic ends.

My earlier postings on the subject raise the issue of Cheadle’s involvement in Kagiso a company invested in Aspen, the local producers of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, and thus question the law professor’s fitness to be involved in public health policy.

Cheadle’s involvement with the ruling party and UCT appears to be the reason why he is allowed to operate in such a cavalier fashion — his relationship to Kagiso is a conflict of interest if ever there was one.

For the record, Cheadle’s company Cheadle Thompsen Haysom continue to appear as advisers on Kagiso annual reports. The sizeable investments by Kagiso in Aspen have not drawn any criticism from the medical establishment, despite their associates and advisers seeking to set public health policy. Cheadle appears to have presided over a 2018 matter at the Competition Commission involving Rustenberg Platininum Mines and Mototolo Ventures, an entity partly owned by Kagiso Tiso. He has appeared before the Cape Law Society disciplinary committee regarding a similar lack of transparency and conflict of interest at Labour Court during 2010 without any sanction from this body.

UPDATE: CCMA declares vaccine mandates unconstitutional

Mandates: Statist power grab undermines personal autonomy as well as collective rights

A STATIST POWER-GRAB is on the boil. Government control of your entire life from cradle to grave is what many political pundits have in mind. Whether it is the far-left who are pursuing the end of private property ownership in order to make the state the ‘custodian of all property’, or misguided intellectuals on the right promoting vaccine mandates and grumbling meekly about the price of petrol at the pump and ignoring state-controlled fuel levies, the result is all the same.

Erosion of the fundamental, egalitarian and openly democratic principles, granted everyone in South Africa. Obliteration of personal freedom and evisceration of the core values enshrined by our constitution as a foundation stone, in what is an emancipatory charter of our Republic, has been a trend for nearly a decade.

In the rewrite of the constitutional narrative to favour personal agendas and party fortunes, (think of Gwede Mantashe and his resort to pro-fossil fuel rhetoric), an agenda is clear — the blatant capture and reshaping of our political system to allow for the wholesale reshaping and reorganisation of the national character in the image of other totalitarian dictatorships around the world, think of China, Cuba, and North Korea.

Thus Omphemetse S Sibanda writes: “It is highly problematic when individuals care for themselves and their immediate families only and do not care about the wellbeing of the entire community in which they live during the pandemic”, and by that he means the state: “If people don’t care, the state must help them to care or to grow a caring bone.” [my italics]

A community no doubt comprised of party loyalists, sycophants and acolytes?

It was my namesake CS Lewis who wrote: “Of all tyrannies, a tyranny exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end, for they do so with the approval of their conscience.”

The same may be said of those who lack any conscience in the ANC, and by illustration Deputy health minister Dr Sibongiseni Dhlomo who believes “the rights of individuals not to get vaccinated for Covid-19 will be trumped by the rights of a collective who choose vaccination.”

“A collective right becomes superior to an individual right,” he claims. “We will not deny you to stay at home if you so wish but you can’t force yourself into a taxi of 10 other people who are vaccinated if you refuse to vaccinate but you want to travel with them to work.”

By which one can only presume, that the collective rights and authority to vaccinate, referred to here are whatever the party determines to be the prevailing authority and not some high-minded ideal, based upon any democratic conception of our national character. Ditto patient rights.

Freedom is not a bone you throw to a dog

It is thus that Ben Winks, a highly acclaimed legal advocate on the far-right (of winklehood), and many years my junior, and certainly too young to experience forced medical interventions under apartheid, who incorrectly and without any evidence suggests: “Does the Constitution allow compulsory vaccination? Yes: it commands it”.

Well, how incredibly patronising of these three men, (and yes one should also question why so many male voices on the subject?)

Do Sibanda, Dhlomo and Winks, et. al. seriously presume to suggest they know what is best for my family, and further, foolishly assume, they have some right in law to inject my family against their will, in violation of Article 12 (which has its corollary in article 12 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities), as if I do not possess free will nor any volition and am simply a ward of the state? And whatever happened to Article 13, freedom from slavery?

For the record I am not disabled, have been jabbed twice by Pfizer, but hereby lodge my objections to any coercion and removal of choice — brazen attempts to unlawfully usurp my freedom and that of my family under the ruse of collectivism and simple majoritarianism. Just about nobody is suggesting that infected persons should be free to infect others, but rather to use an analogy, there is no rationale behind forcing everyone to take ARVs merely to avoid HIV.

A civic duty is no longer a duty when it is a compulsion. A person is no longer a free individual if they are slaves to the collective will, or require another’s permission to do what is considered natural. To reiterate, mandates are ordinarily granted during elections, and constitutional mandates arise from a defence of the constitution, not a shoddy, legalistic attempt, nor a quasi political project, to rewrite and interpolate its contents.

We are not your willing slaves

All pro-mandate opinion pieces published in the public arena to date represent a dangerous resort to authoritarianism and statism, in which it is argued inter alia, the state should treat individuals as children, or worse, mere tools, in effect a sad resort to the ancient doctrine of patria potestas, or the state ‘acting as parent’, apparently in order to defend the ‘collective will of the people’.

While the rights of the person certainly need to be weighed against the rights of the collective, the issue begs the question, who are we as a nation, what is the collective will, and who claims to represent it? Our freedom is not reducible to some fratboy law school formula, (one part individual to three parts party agenda divided by collective power). Freedom includes freedom from, as in freedom from war, coercion and fear, without which there could be no democracy.

This is exactly why these proposed mandates deserve a referendum (if not a constitutional amendment) since the result represents a major shift in the democratic, antislavery narrative of the country. Switzerland recently held a referendum on the issue of limited vaccine mandates. The UK’s Sajid Javid has declared “Mandatory Covid vaccines ‘unethical’ and ‘impractical’. Our democracy could do better than to attempt to crowd out those voicing objections.

And what if we all voted for totalitarianism, servitude and the end of democracy, what then?

If one perceives that the collective will is enshrined in the constitution and not any one particular organisation nor individual, then it should follow that article 12 (Freedom and security of the person) be read with the same circumspection and deference as article 11 (Right to life) and article 13, (Freedom from Slavery, Servitude and Forced Labour).

There is a good reason why these non-derogable rights, appear right next door to each other, while our health rights are littered throughout the constitution, appearing several times under Health Care, Environment and so on.

A non-derogable right is not subject to retroactive legislation during a state of emergency and cannot simply be curtailed holus bolus via an act of parliament.

Reintroducing the death penalty would probably protect the collective from harm, but be a violation of the values referred to in the preamble. Adopting Nazism as an ideology would most likely get the trains running on time, at least for the majority of us, whilst ending multi-party democracy might result in greater efficiency, and less taxation for everyone, as would a communist dictatorship.

I am not going to repeat my previous piece on patria potestas, but you can read it here. And I also suggest you read my initial response to that other looney toon of the left, posing as a legal pundit in the media, Pierre de Vos.

There is also this piece: ‘When the pandemic ends, those unlawful mandates are going to haunt us”, one of several similar pieces published here, which might elucidate the issue.

SEE: It looks like Omicron variant causes milder illness – is this how Covid-19 becomes endemic?

Bioprospecting & Ethnopharmacology: recent advances in local plant medicinal knowledge

ETHNOBOTANY is the ‘study of how people of a particular culture and region make use of indigenous (native) plants.’ Needless to say, I attended a science cafe presentation by Nox Makunga, a professor of Botany and Zoology at Stellenbosch University entitled “Medicinal Plants of South Africa: Digging in the past for a future bio-economy.”

Her work on the Cape Floristic kingdom which include various ‘bio-hotspots’, is simply incredible, the more so due to its location of botany alongside ethnographic studies. Her talk thus traversed work on salvia africana, pelargoniums/geraniums, Ysterhout (olea capansis), and Rooibos (aspalathus linearis), to name a few of the plant species mentioned, and included the multifaceted cultures associated with their medicinal use in South Africa.

There is recorded history of ethnopharmocology and “Dutch remedies” for instance going back to the time of Simon van Der Stel and his journey into the interior where the then governor of the Cape Dutch colony came across Mesembryanthemaceae also known as Kanna, Kougoed, “Bushman’s ecstacy” and Sceletium. Makunga has published extensively on the local ‘sack people’, and her piece entitled “The Informal Trade of Medicinal Plants by Rastafari Bush Doctors in the Western Cape” is often cited, alongside her more empirical lab-based studies, (see here)

Even more astounding is the fact she presented some of her own findings on the efficacy of Ysterhout in treating tumours in mice, the use of Southerlandia to treat diabetes and a plethora of plant knowledge, deserving of a devoted online wiki project (see here) — if only to enable the lay health practitioner and informal botanists amongst us to access indigenous knowledge alongside the evidence-based science which is forging ahead in leaps and bounds.

I would very much have loved to record and upload her talk, done in an African oral tradition sans powerpoint, but due to the ‘exigency of the situation’, this was not to be. However what followed was a lively chat about patents, my own input on the very first news story published in South Africa by yours truly, on the problematic patenting of rooibos tea in the USA (and subsequent two-decade battle to return its intellectual property), and my own research conducted on carpobrotus edulis, the common sour fig.

I thus took the professor to task for glossing over a plant with some 500 patents, many of them from biotech companies in Asia, but neglected to situate my own informal work within the context from whence it sprung, namely an ongoing journey into indigenous plant medicine. And should therefore give credit to traditional knowledge practitioner Tumelo Kuena for having pointed out the long-standing traditions associated with this plant, which is more than simply a skin balm, but proven to be effective against microbes and bacteria such as staphylococcus aureus.

Whether or not Sour Figs represent the same potential value chain as Hoodia, Sceletium, Southerlandia and Rooibos tea remains to be seen. Unlike these plants, Sour Figs are endemic to other regions, including Western Australia and parts of the Mediterranean. I find the question of whether or not a patent in Asia for a plant living in our backyard is enforceable given its longstanding use by indigenous peoples, rather intriguing if not challenging.

One can only suggest that an open-source approach, a scheme which allows for the creation of value at the same time as the protection of rights, would be a far better path to follow than yet another decades long battle inside the WTO.

Mandates: Public peril or just plain baloney?

THE CAMPAIGN by those punting unlawful vaccine mandates ratcheted up yet another notch this week, with several opinion pieces casting those who oppose immunisation score cards and internal passports, as ‘beneath scientific discourse’ or to use Stephen Groote’s phrase: members of the “desperate and low”.

That Grootes like many other so-called academics and experts positioning themselves as ‘protectors of moral hazard’ and ‘saviours of public health’ (read your health), fails to provide any supporting citations for his bizarre reasoning on the subject, is par for the course.

Grootes’s characterisation of the ACDP position, surely one which is admittedly non-partisan if a little opportunistic, may be forgiven — it’s a long-standing grudge by the formerly progressive left. The ACDP to their credit do not oppose vaccination as such, rather they oppose the unbridled removal of patient consent, and the process whereby constitutionalism i.e. the will of the people is replaced by the dictates of the few in positions of authority.

Less easily forgiven are the unsupported ramblings of Professor Keymanthri Moodley, a director of the Centre for Medical Ethics and Law at Stellenbosch University, as quoted in a piece also published by the Daily Maverick, in which the author fails to provide any counter-point to the one-sided narrative of other right-wing medical ethicists who support the return to an apartheid-era dompas, albeit to protect the most vulnerable.

Clearly this is a move beyond pure rationality into outright coercion and bully-tactics — the webinar held by the Steve Biko Centre for Bioethics saw contributions by three other individuals, none of whom are similarly quoted, and thus may be mistaken for being a summation of the views of the Biko Centre itself.

If Biko were alive I am fairly positive he would have a lot to say about these hasty and needlessly slapdash attempts to limit or negate Article 12 and Article 14, two of the foundation stones of our current legal dispensation.

The US constitution, for example, written by slave-owners, does not contain an explicit right to privacy, nor is it an expressly anti-slavery opus such as our own. The US has no right to ‘ownership and control over the body’ — as I have already written, our own constitution presents a unique legacy of struggle against the patronising dictates of the apartheid medical apparatus, one which sought to classify persons using pseudo-scientific analysis — operating as if most South Africans were members of a separate species to the Human Race.

Merely because an ethicist is able to make a public interest argument does not automatically follow that it is reasonable nor rational. Without motivating why this is so from a material perspective, Moodley sees the issue as a simplistic binary: public peril versus personal privilege.

One suspects that she is referring here to the idea of herd immunity, and not a metaphysical debate introduced by a theologian?

A Nature journal article published in March for example, claims herd immunity when it comes to Covid is out of reach, and thus our efforts may come to nought.

The reality of Covid becoming endemic certainly puts paid to the ‘most vulnerable’ argument, (why are we not all taking ARVs to avoid deaths from HIV?) The logic of preemption is dependent upon there being a rational basis for these types of interventions — not simply well-meaning rhetoric, nor the wish nor fanciful whim for a life free of seasonal illnesses such as the flu, and ultimately a cure for death?

Another article by the New York Times, looking back at what has been learnt from successive waves of the covid virus, demonstrates that high levels of vaccination in some states has ‘acted like a wall’ to prevent the spread of the virus, thus protecting other members of the community, but is certainly not an endorsement of those who would also have the family dog and cat foreceably vaccinated, whilst everyone else is neutered from a political perspective?

Still other articles in the world’s media, paint a picture of divergent results from different vaccines, while several present caution when it comes to young adults and children.

There is as yet, no concrete evidence provided by any of our local ‘experts’ on why vaccine score cards (alongside demerits and sanctions for non-compliance) ought to be implemented, if at all, as we arrive at the end of the tragic two year period in which the virus has been with us. And yet all data suggests that South Africa’s vaccination strategy, though slow at the outset, is on track, despite its being voluntary and lawful. Though, the country still has a long way to go,(1) we need to exhaust lawful interventions before embarking on what may be termed, ‘special measures’, of the type implemented during wartime.

Furthermore, there are other issues which practically nobody is debating, for instance, why rolling out an elimination strategy vs simple suppression, need require an extraordinary change to the democratic character of our country? A country which claims to defend the health of the most vulnerable, yet callously consigns these self-same individuals to damp shacks and shantytowns sans water and sanitation.

Reducing the virus, which is bound to become endemic to absolute zero, and which will, in all likelihood simply fade into the background as the pandemic invariably draws to a close in 2022, need not require the removal of our current democratic dispensation and its replacement by an authoritarian dictatorship — one that keeps everyone squeaky clean, and there’s a thought.

Ordinarily mandates, as I have written in my previous piece, are gained via elections, yet the arguments being issued by so-called medical ethicists fail to consider that we have a multi-party democratic system, and instead seek to place us all on a path of mandate capture and totalitarianism.

Public health policy should be debated in Parliament, the mooted medical injunctions and objectives need to be subject to public scrutiny, the same way every other peril, including poverty is debated.

And so I have more than an elegant one-liner to Moodley’s miserable reductionist logic: Freedom is not a privilege but a birthright — No to medical apartheid. Your medical choices are not our business.

NOTE: As of October 24, 21.3-million Covid-19 shots had been administered in SA, but only 11.56-million adults, or 28.8% of the adult population were fully immunised

UPDATE: Stephen Grootes issues a volte-face, without recording his previous position.

When the pandemic ends, those unlawful mandates are going to haunt us

THERE has been a plethora of verbiage on the subject of ‘vaccine mandates’ over the past weeks. Several pieces written by legal academics and health scholars all present these measures as a fait accompli, and worse, present public health policy as if the extraordinary measures contemplated do not require anything resembling rational debate inside our nation’s democratic institutions.

Mandates are usually associated with elections and the resulting laws and policies are ordinarily drafted by parliament. Instead public health activism has adopted the fever pitch of the imperative, the unquestioning injunction and ever-present directive. What passes for debate these days, usually 5-minute opinion provided by so-called expert ‘talking heads’ on television followed by equally vapid ‘vox pops’ from the public with absolutely no balance provided by presenters, is leading the country assuredly down the road of internal passports and vaccine score cards.

As I have already written, this country has an egregious history when it comes to internal passports, in particular the aparthied era dompas, not to mention a troubled past — one haunted by the evil doctoring and medical experimentation of the likes of Dr Verwoerd et al. All the more reason to tread carefully lest we forget the lessons of the past and ignore the imperatives enshrined in our constitution?

Instead a paid-for-promotion by Investec, boldly claims without providing any citations: “Unvaccinated people are driving up the chances of mutation, creating more opportunities for the Covid-19 virus to bypass the immune system. The more people who are vaccinated, the closer we will get to a point of containment like we have with the flu.”

The same piece is remarkable for its failure to disclose the banking group’s considerable investment in Aspen Pharmacare, and instead presents an Aspen Senior Executive, Dr Stavros Nicolaou as an expert in the field of epidemiology. Then Professor WD François Venter of the Wits Centre for Reproductive Health is presented as an expert on virology. The webinar is a far cry from a national science symposium on the subject and a long way away from resembling anything like a colloquium or conference.

At the same time as these paid promotions, other health propaganda pieces are published in the media.

One by Safura Abdool Karim of the Bhekisisa Centre for Health Journalism falsely claims “South Africa’s laws allow for the government to implement mandatory Covid-19 vaccinations but these mandates won’t necessarily infringe on individual rights.” Then proceeds to jump the gun in claiming “under the Notifiable Medical Conditions Regulations, a healthcare provider would be allowed to administer a vaccine even if a person refuses to accept it.”

While the National Health Act of 61 of 2003 certainly allows for the quarantining of individuals suspected of being infected with a notifiable disease, (and Covid-19 is a notifiable disease according to regulations), the act does not provide for mandatory vaccination as such, nor does it define vaccination nor even provide a relevant immunisation section. The astonishingly brazen claims made by Karim, instead appear to refer to draft regulations which have yet to be promulgated, and thus an as yet unfinalised government vaccine mandate policy — a policy which remains moot, and which is already the subject of a legal challenge by a religious group.

It is worth considering first principles and discussing what exactly we are dealing with here.

A piece ‘comparing SARS-CoV-2 with SARS-CoV and influenza pandemic’ published in the Lancet in September 2020, may be considered required reading:

Cheadle-stan: A brave new shameful world?

STUDENT bodies have resoundingly rejected calls for ‘mandatory vaccination’ on our nation’s campuses. Coercion defeats the purpose of constitutional guarantees, including bodily integrity and freedom of movement, not to mention academic freedom. The students say immunisation programmes should be voluntary and recognise individual rights at the same time the needs of the majority are taken into account.

This hasn’t stopped several motions for vaccine mandates and/or vaccine passports from being proposed by UCT Senate and other universities. And it hasn’t stopped far-right legal professionals from arguing essentially for the scrapping of article 12 alongside the introduction of internal passports which recall South Africa’s introduction of the so-called ‘dompas’.

If these proposals are anything to go by, we could end up adopting a version of the ‘China Model’ of social control, in which vaccine points scores determine both social status and access to resources in society, and all this without so much as a debate on campus nor even a democratic process within the hallowed halls of the National Assembly? A system which lends itself to all sorts of abuse. Post something the authorities don’t like, and beep, you’re just an anti-vaxer, denied access to public transport.

Right-wing juristocrat Professor Pierre de Vos thus penned yet another article published by Daily Maverick, this week in which he purports to present case precedent and various authorities in support of the limitation of one of the foundations of our constitutional dispensation.

According to article 36 of the constitution, rights may only be limited by a ‘law of general application’, — the rights under article 12 were considered important enough by our nation’s founders, for them to be listed as non-derogable during a state of emergency. In other words, one may infer that the mere declaration of an emergency or disaster is not sufficient to consider their limitation, and that one cannot argue, as many SABC talking heads have over the past week, on the basis of the mere roll-out of so-called ‘mask-mandates’.

De Vos argues: “While a policy requiring all (non-exempted) staff and students to be vaccinated will not directly coerce anyone to get vaccinated, it will present individuals who are not keen to be vaccinated with a difficult choice and would therefore interfere with their right freely to make decisions about their own bodies. “

After appearing to walk back some of his astonishing statements made in his earlier piece (see here), he then proceeds to rehash work written on the subject of bioethics, referring to an 2016 article by A Nienaber and K N Bailey, in the South African Journal of Bioethics and Law:”The right to physical integrity and informed refusal: Just how far does a patient’s right to refuse medical treatment go?”

In this manner De Vos introduces yet another series of citations, ostensibly to argue the point that article 12 may be limited by any arbitrary law when it comes to immunisation.

Microchip ‘vaccine passports’, second thoughts on Cheadle-stan

AS ONE of the vaccinated, I am generally in favour of universal immunisation strategies. The majority of deaths during the Covid epidemic have come from the ranks of the unvaccinated. Vaccines save lives, I wrote, but ‘removing patient consent destroys the foundation of our democracy’. I have thus tended to promote informed consent, patient choice and persuasion rather than outright coercion — and favour to some extant, what is referred to in legal circles as ‘positive discrimination’ especially when it comes to certain categories of employment.

An opinion piece by Kevin Ritchie in the Star entitled “Vaccine hesitancy: Why it’s time to create no-vaxx, no-go areas however paints a grim future of a state in which all citizens are effectively microchipped, forced to carry electronic ‘vaccine passports’ — internal passports that act to either grant or restrict access to freedom of movement, or as Ritchie explains, “no jab, no pub, no shopping mall”.

All this is to be achieved on the basis of immediate and instantaneous third-party access to patient information. A feat which would necessitate the removal of rights already granted under the Protection of Personal Information Act (POPI), not to mention placing restrictions and limitations on fundamental freedoms — the right to privacy, freedom of movement and other rights enshrined in our Constitution.

I have already written how an antiquated dominionship and/or guardianship model of state power (the state acting as parent-of-the-people), and thus a model contrary to our human rights based system, is being rolled out as we speak by Cheadle, Karim and Grey et al, in the process negating the hard-won victories of our democracy.

Unlike members of PANDA, who are campaigning for individual privacy and rights when it comes to employment, I have no quibbles in disclosing my Covid vaccine status to all and sundry, but can’t help wondering how this plays out as we move forward and especially when it comes to other diseases, for example HIV?

Didn’t we all win a patient rights battle, fought during the late 90s and over the turn-of-the-millennium, for HIV patients to not be coerced into disclosure of status? And why is Covid being treated like a chronic illness, when all the evidence points to its eminent and impending seasonal nature?

As Helen Braswell writes in Statnews: “The truth of the matter is that pandemics always end. And to date vaccines have never played a significant role in ending them. “

Brasell who a former Nieman Global Health Fellow at Harvard, where she focused on polio eradication, argues that “there were no flu vaccines in 1918, when the world didn’t yet know that the great influenza was caused by a virus, H1N1. In 1957, when the H2N2 pandemic swept the world, flu vaccine was mainly a tool of the military. In the pandemic of 1968, which brought us H3N2, the United States produced nearly 22 million doses of vaccine, but by the time it was ready the worst of the pandemic had passed, and demand subsided.”

She writes: “That ‘too little and too late‘ phenomenon played out again in 2009, when the world finally had the capacity to make hundreds of millions of doses of H1N1 vaccine; some countries cancelled large portions of their orders because they ended up not needing them.”

The same may be said for a previous coronovirus pandemic thought to have occurred in 1889, and known in medical histories as “the Russian flu,” which “might actually have been caused by one of the human coronaviruses, OC43.”