Mainstream Media Freak-Out Over Vax Resistance By Richard Miller (London)
Here is some material from the opposition, CNN.com, covering the Covid vax resistance in Europe, no doubt because they are concerned about parallel movements growing in the United States. However, with the recent Supreme Court of the United States decision throwing out the Biden Covid vax mandates, such as movement may not grow in the same way. The article struck me as an apt illustration of the way the mainstream now manages dissent, by discrediting the legitimacy of objections. At no point does the article critically self-reflect and consider that the dissenters just might be right. In other words, propaganda all the way down the line.
The line that the vaccines work in not stopping transmission of the disease, but merely by reducing the spread and severity of the disease, is a major paradigm shift that they do not acknowledge. In fact, Omicron, spreading among highly vaccinated populations, refutes their position, as articles posted yesterday at the blog demonstrated. Disease severity is relative, but matters is the initial transmission and spread.
“Europe's loud, rule-breaking unvaccinated minority are falling out of society,”
By Rob Picheta, CNN
Before Covid-19, Nicolas Rimoldi had never attended a protest.
But somewhere along the pandemic's long and tortuous road, which saw his native Switzerland imposing first one lockdown, then another, and finally introducing vaccination certificates, Rimoldi decided he had had enough.
Now he leads Mass-Voll, one of Europe's largest youth-orientated anti-vaccine passport groups.
Because he has chosen not to get vaccinated, student and part-time supermarket cashier Rimoldi is -- for now, at least -- locked out of much of public life. Without a vaccine certificate, he can no longer complete his degree or work in a grocery store. He is barred from eating in restaurants, attending concerts or going to the gym.
"People without a certificate like me, we're not a part of society anymore," he said. "We're excluded. We're like less valuable humans."
As the pandemic has moved into its third year, and the Omicron variant has sparked a new wave of cases, governments around the world are still grappling with the challenge of bringing the virus under control. Vaccines, one of the most powerful weapons in their armories, have been available for a year but a small, vocal minority of people -- such as Rimoldi -- will not take them.
Faced with lingering pockets of vaccine hesitancy, or outright refusal, many nations are imposing ever stricter rules and restrictions on unvaccinated people, effectively making their lives more difficult in an effort to convince them to get their shots.
In doing so, they are testing the boundary between public health and civil liberties -- and heightening tensions between those who are vaccinated and those who are not.
Nicolas Rimoldi at a protest this year. He says his movement, which campaigns against vaccine passports, is "not anti-vax" and that people who have been vaccinated attend its demonstrations.
"We will not allow a tiny minority of unhinged extremists to impose its will on our entire society," Germany's new Chancellor, Olaf Scholz, said last month, targeting the violent fringes of the anti-vaccine movement.
Vaccine passports have been in place for months to gain entry to hospitality venues in much of the European Union. But as Delta and Omicron infections have surged and inoculation rollouts have stalled, some governments have gone further.
Austria imposed Europe's first lockdown for the unvaccinated and is scheduled to introduce mandatory shots from February 1.
Germany has banned unvaccinated people from most areas of public life, and the country's Health Minister, Karl Lauterbach, warned in December that: "without mandatory vaccination I do not see us managing further waves in the long term."
And France's President Emmanuel Macron last week told Le Parisien newspaper that he "really wants to piss off" the unvaccinated. "We're going to keep doing it until the end," he said. "This is the strategy."
Rule-breaking and subterfuge
The scientific basis for anti-Covid measures is solid: Vaccines have been proven to reduce transmission, substantially slash the likelihood of serious illness and decrease the burden on healthcare systems.
Many of the restrictions also have broad public support -- Switzerland's were recently backed comfortably in a referendum -- as majority-vaccinated populations tire of obstacles blocking their path out of the pandemic.
And real-world data shows that impact; European countries with highly vaccinated populations, such as Spain and Portugal, have been less badly affected by more recent waves of infection and have been able to open up their economies, while those with stuttering rollouts have faced severe restrictions and spikes in hospitalizations.
But the latest rounds of curbs have fueled anger among those unwilling to take a shot, many of whom are now slipping out of society -- or resorting to subterfuge and rule-breaking to create their own communities, citing their right to "freedom."
"On Monday I was with 50 people eating in a restaurant -- the police wouldn't be happy if they saw us," Rimoldi told CNN, boasting of illegal dinners and social events with unvaccinated friends that he likened to Prohibition-era speakeasies -- but which public health experts describe as reckless and dangerous.
Thousands of people have attended protests in Paris against France's "Pass Sanitaire" vaccine passport.
Attendees will hand in their phones to avoid word of their meetings getting out, and will visit restaurants, cinemas or other venues whose owners were sympathetic to their cause, he said. "Yes, it's not legal, but in our point of view the certificate is illegal," Rimoldi added unapologetically.
"[Some] people have a very twisted idea of what freedom is," said Suzanne Suggs, professor of communication at the University of Lugano's public health institute. "They're arguing it's their individual right to harm others."
Martin McKee, professor of European public health at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine said "the vast majority of people everywhere" were supportive of measures to combat Covid.
"These people are the exceptions," he said. "But what can you do? You don't really want to make martyrs of these people -- if they choose to (gather), they're putting themselves and others at risk."
'A two-class society'
"We live in a two-class society now," Rimoldi told CNN. "It's horrible. It's a nightmare."
But if life as an unvaccinated person in Europe is a nightmare, it is one from which Rimoldi and his followers could easily wake up. Unlike in poorer parts of the world where some are desperate to receive doses, access to Covid-19 vaccines is plentiful in the EU.
The effects of the shots have been clear for some time; across Europe, regions with lower rates of vaccine uptake have suffered more severe waves of hospitalizations and deaths.
The World Health Organization (WHO) estimated in November that the lives of 470,000 people in Europe aged 60 and over have been saved by vaccines since the rollout began, though it has cautioned against vaccine mandates except as "an absolute last resort ... only applicable when all other feasible options to improve vaccine uptake have been exhausted." WHO's regional director for Europe, Dr. Hans Kluge, warned in December that: "What is acceptable in one society and community may not be effective and acceptable in another."
Rimoldi insists that his group is "not anti-mask" and "not anti-vax" -- concerned purely with democracy and legality, rather than the science of the vaccine -- though its social media pages have recirculated extreme anti-vaccination websites.
"At our demonstrations there's many people who are fully vaccinated," he claimed, adding: "They say, 'Hey, the government lied to us'" about vaccine rollouts meaning the end of Covid restrictions.
He was unwilling to discuss the vaccine itself, saying only that he refused it as a matter of principle. "We don't talk much about the vaccine ... that's not one of the topics we discuss," he said when asked whether he agreed the shots had done more good than harm.
Several campaigners CNN spoke to also expressed concerns that each new set of rules imposed in the name of halting the spread of coronavirus was part of a "slippery slope" of never-ending restrictions.
But vaccine passports or some form of certification -- the measures that Rimoldi and others protest loudly -- appear to have aided rollouts. A study by the University of Oxford, published in December, found that such policies have led more people to take up the shot in France, Israel, Switzerland and Italy.
Alexander Schallenberg, the former Austrian Chancellor who imposed a lockdown on his country's unvaccinated population, said in November that its vaccine uptake was "shamefully low." At the time around 65% of Austria's population was fully inoculated against Covid-19 -- one of the lower rates in the EU -- but recent stricter measures have seen that rate rise to over 70%.”