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.”