Left Lockdown Sceptics is please to publish an article by guest contributor Rusere Shoniwa
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) has revealed that people of Black African origin are five and a half times more likely not to have received a first jab compared to white British people. Failing to win the race for places in prestigious universities and the best jobs could be blamed on systemic racism. Not their fault. But failing to queue up for a free jab in the arm? To some members of the Black British Establishment, that’s not only embarrassing – it’s downright anti-New Normal and they’re having none of it!
Getting “left behind” – the false link between vaccination and racial inequality
Sir Lenny Henry is leading the charge, ably (or not, depending on your view) backed up by other leading Black British Establishment (BBE) luminaries, including actors with a good sprinkling of MBEs, CBEs and a Right Reverend holy woman, with a video campaign to get ordinary Black British folk to have the Covid jab or risk getting ‘left behind’.
Let’s be clear about where the ‘left behind’ euphemism originates. Following implementation of policies to deny the unvaccinated access to a wide range of public spaces and amenities, Israel’s health minister announced his new mantra: “Whoever does not get vaccinated will be left behind.”
It’s pretty clear that getting ‘left behind’ is not like missing the bus and then waiting a few minutes for the next one. With the threat of vaccine passports looming, getting ‘left behind’ means being denied the right to participate in society – the right to work, to travel, to shop for food, to receive medical and other services, to socialise with friends in public gatherings.
In short, getting ‘left behind’ means being slowly strangled to death for exercising your human right to reject a medical treatment which you believe is not right for you – a right that was established in the Nuremberg Code to prevent Nazi types from invading your body without your express permission. The principles of the code now form the basis of voluntary informed consent in the UK, which protects the right of the individual to control their own body. That right would be severely curtailed by the introduction of vaccine passports that effectively coerce citizens into accepting a medical intervention.
I say ‘slowly strangled’ but the Caribbean island of St. Vincent has provided a grim example of how this strangulation can be dramatically sped up. The consequences of being ‘left behind’ in this case were that St. Vincent’s unvaccinated were told they would not be evacuated on cruise ships following an eruption of the La Soufriere volcano on the island.
The BBE Vaccine Evangelists appear quite smug about their choice of this euphemistic sophistry. But the message in their three-minute video is quite clear – forget any nonsense about human rights. We are, in effect, being told that the quaint and old-fashioned notion that the state cannot violate bodily autonomy has no place in the New Normal. We are being told to get with the new programme or get ‘left behind’.
The treacle is laid on thick from the first second of the video as the talented cast of luminaries and actors, putting their immense dramatic talent to questionable use, address every possible close human family relation, declaring their undying love for them in the most dulcet and lovingly parental tones.
Of course, they’re addressing all family connections of every UK resident of Black ethnicity – the target audience. And already I start to wonder about the principle of consent to treatment. After all, the NHS informs us that “consent is an important part of medical ethics and international human rights law” and, for consent to be valid, it has to be voluntary and informed. Regarding the voluntary element of voluntary informed consent, it goes on to say that:
“the decision to either consent or not to consent to treatment must be made by the person, and must not be influenced by pressure from medical staff, friends or family.” [Bold emphasis added]
I imagine a conversation between the Vaccine Evangelists and their solicitors as they parse the definition of ‘family’ for the purpose of this video. Are the individual cast members technically addressing their own specific family members or the generic UK family? And if they are only addressing a generic family, have they successfully avoided the possibility of vaccine injury litigation because you can’t pressure ‘family’ if you haven’t specifically addressed your own family? Or maybe a judge will rule that the address is both specific and generic? Does that widen potential liability?
Acknowledging that disagreements will arise in all families (an oblique hint at disagreements about vaccination), they emotively express their desire to interact with them all again, “face to face”. But, to do this, they claim: “we all need to take the Covid 19 jab together”.
The target audience is reassuringly told that things will return to normal. Not the old normal, mind you, but a ‘New Normal’, as David Harewood MBE explains:
“Things will slowly get back to normal. Well, what they’re calling the ‘New Normal’. But in reality the New Normal will mean needing a vaccine for the kinds of things we used to take for granted.”
No explanation is provided of why vaccination is now needed to participate in society. We will examine this claim later, along with much else that is wrong with the video.
The Right Reverend Rose Hudson-Wilkin goes on to declare that, because she and the whole cast of talented actors “love you from the bottom of our hearts”, they don’t want you to be “left behind”.
Acknowledging that, “while other communities are rushing to get the vaccine” but some members of the black community are being “more cautious”, the cast urge their target audience to “trust the facts from our own professors, scientists and doctors involved in the vaccines’ development – GPs, not just from here in the UK but from all over the world, including Africa and the Caribbean, many of whom are our relatives.” They reassuringly add that the vaccine is “safe for people of all ethnicities” and urge people not to “let your concerns [about safety] be the thing that widens racial inequality in our society.”
It’s quite a skill to pack so much drivel into so few words and it’s even more challenging to unpack it. But we must try. For starters, being “more cautious” about your health is highly commendable. But that’s not really what they mean – “more cautious” is BBE code for “more stupid”. And, in any case, why throw caution to the wind with the meaningless claim that “our relatives” were involved in the vaccines’ development? I can assure the Vaccine Evangelists that I know no-one at Pfizer, AstraZeneca or Johnson and Johnson and, even if I did, that wouldn’t be the basis on which I would assess the vaccines’ suitability for my health profile. That such crude and broad tribalism should be the basis of a medical decision is an insult to anyone’s ethics, morals and intellect.
There is, of course, absolutely no rational connection between racial inequality and a personal choice to accept or reject a vaccine, unless of course you assume that the state, abetted by the BBE Vaccine Evangelists, has a right to coerce you into accepting it by linking it to your right to participate in society. This is emotional blackmail disguised as your grandfather gently dropping pearls of wisdom or your grandmother telling you she wants only the best for you as she serves up freshly baked apple pie.
“We don’t want you to get sick. We don’t want you to die”, they say, vocal chords trembling with affected concern. The punchy message delivered at the end: “When your turn comes, take the jab. Let’s do this together.”
Seth Godin is credited with the observation:
“Facts are irrelevant. What matters is what the consumer believes”.
Amplifying this advertising maxim, this video is straight out of the most cynical chapters of the industry’s playbook. Devoid of factual information, it is designed to elicit a strong emotional response and dampen rational processing. It is a shameful and retch-inducing display of emotional manipulation masquerading as concern.
One of several problematic premises of the video is the arrogant assumption that the target audience’s resistance to the government’s coercive mass vaccination drive is founded on ignorance of “the facts”, while offering no facts to counterbalance the supposed ignorance. Worse still, rather than starting from the ethically sound and compassionate stance espoused in Human Rights Law on bodily autonomy and free choice, the video endorses governmental coercion explicit in vaccine passports by couching it in the euphemistic threat of being “left behind”. This is reinforced by linking the personal choice to accept or reject vaccination to racial inequality – the whole Black community being “left behind”.
Putting risk on the scales – a rational approach
While the BBE Vaccine Evangelists’ video oozes with emotional solicitude, facts are conspicuous by their absence. The whole tone and message of the video might be entirely different if more balanced factual information were included.
It’s hard to know what information the average person is using to draw their own conclusions but it’s clear that one of the many determinants of attitudes to Covid is the information universe you inhabit. Below is a brief fact-based framework to offer a necessary counterpoint to the New Normal mood music of the Vaccine Evangelists’ video.
Firstly, weighing up the risks and benefits of getting the jab involves putting two risks on the scale and deciding which is greater – the risk associated with the actual disease or the risk of the vaccine itself? I think it’s fair to say that most people believe the risk of the disease is great and that there is virtually no risk associated with the vaccine. Is this assessment of the balance of risks correct for everyone?
- The latest study published on 26 March 2021 by John Ioannidis indicates the global Infection Fatality Rate to be 0.15% (0.05% for <70 years) which is around the same level as seasonal influenza. This equates to a 99.85% chance of survival (99.95% for <70 years).
- The median age of death with Covid in the UK is 82.4 years. This is higher than the age of normal life expectancy in the UK of 81.1 years. Covid could statistically be described as an end-of-life illness. While anyone can get infected, there is more than a thousandfold difference in mortality between the oldest and youngest.
- For the vast majority of those who catch Covid, it is nothing more than a mild irritant and, for every 1000 people under 50, virtually none will die. The under-50s are less likely to die from Covid than they would be from an accident or injury in a typical year. So, if you’re under 50 and in reasonable health, your time might be better spent making sure your vehicle MOT is up to date than queueing to get a Covid jab.
- Studies indicate 20-50% of the population have pre-existing immunity to SARS-CoV-2, due to, among other factors, T-cell cross-reactivity from previous coronavirus infections and that naturally acquired T-cell and B-cell immunity from SARS-CoV-2 will be long-lasting (for many years), including after mild disease.
- The UK government’s own Chief Medical Adviser stated at a press conference on 11 May 2020 (at the height of the apparent first wave) that a significant proportion of people will not get this virus at all, at any point in the epidemic. Of those that get symptoms, the great majority, probably 80%, will have a mild or moderate disease which might be bad enough for them to have to go to bed for a few days but not bad enough for them to have to go to the doctor. Nearly a year later, this still holds true.
- It’s taken a full year for Britain’s Chief Medical Officer to take this fact on board but he finally seems to be coming around to the idea that Coronavirus will now be treated like flu.
All these facts suggest that the threat of Covid has been vastly over-exaggerated and expose the absurdity of the BBE Vaccine Evangelists’ claim that the New Normal “will mean needing a vaccine for the kinds of things we used to take for granted.” We have never advocated mass vaccination and immunity passports for flu so why do it for Covid?
While this is a general or population risk assessment, it’s a good starting point and an awful lot more than what’s on offer from the BBE Vaccine Evangelists. These facts do have to be placed alongside a personal assessment of your own health profile. It’s a personal decision and not something to be taken lightly. Certainly not to be taken on the strength of having your heartstrings pulled by a 3-minute video, or in my case, having your abdominal muscles challenged by dry-heaving.
Vaccine benefit and risk:
The second part of the risk equation is about understanding that vaccines, like all medical treatments, are not risk-free and their benefits should outweigh the risks for each individual.
- Under normal circumstances, drugs or vaccines take about 10 years to develop before marketing. Even when fast-tracked, they would take three years to approve. These vaccines have been blasted to market in 6 months, with even less participant trial data than that. That means there is no certainty about long-term adverse effects – what could happen in 1, 2, 5 and 10 years from now.
- The vaccine manufacturers, acutely aware of the risk of an accelerated vaccine trial process, demanded, and were granted, full immunity from liability for injury or death from a Covid vaccine. A spokesperson from AstraZeneca defended the demand for immunity from liability, saying:
“This is a unique situation where we as a company simply cannot take the risk if in … four years the vaccine is showing side effects”.
- What makes the accelerated trials even more striking is the use in several vaccines of a completely new technology – mRNA. Its large-scale use in healthy human subjects is unprecedented and its long-term effects unknown.
There is plenty of speculation among relevant qualified experts about the potential risk of specific adverse effects which may not have been ruled out in the trial design but I don’t think it’s necessary to detail them in a critique of the ethics (or total absence thereof) on display in the BBE Vaccine Evangelists’ video. The reported deaths and adverse events that have been linked to the vaccine so far are being downplayed as highly insignificant from a Vaccine-versus-Covid risk perspective. But why is it unreasonable to point out that the true safety profile of the vaccines cannot be assessed over a short-term horizon?
The crucial point in relation to Vaccine Evangelism is this: If the vaccine manufacturers aren’t willing to put their money where their mouth is with their own products, shouldn’t a cast of actors be more careful about telling an entire community to dive in head first without any consideration of balanced information and medical ethics based on a genuinely free choice and informed consent?
Whether you know it or not, accepting the vaccine means taking part in a medical experiment, the sheer scale of which has never been seen before. The risk of the disease itself is now much better understood but the longer-term risk profile of the vaccines is still a blindfolded jump off a ledge, the height of which could be 10cm or 100 metres. If you’re content with the known risk of the disease, having personalised it to your particular health profile, are you comfortable to jump blindfolded off a ledge the height of which is not yet known? I know the answer to that question for myself but I wouldn’t presume to know it for everyone else and I can’t understand why the BBE Vaccine Evangelists believe they know the answer for the entire Black British community.
The vaccine manufacturers are making claims about their products’ robust ability (“95% effective”) to prevent illness. By this logic, those who take it are well protected regardless of those who choose not to. Given the vastly over-exaggerated disease severity, only a small minority of those who don’t take it will fall seriously ill. The former group, should they be overwhelmed by poisonous intolerance towards the unvaccinated, are welcome to dance on the graves of the latter.
The Vaccine Evangelists don’t love you and vaccination shouldn’t be a séance
So I want to challenge the actors’ declaration of undying love for all the relatives they list at the start of the video. The minimum requirement of love is a concern for the safety and well-being of the loved one. In giving medical advice, which is what they are doing whether they realise it or not, a concern for safety would entail, at a minimum, a suggestion to consider whether this vaccine is right for you. And yet there is absolutely no suggestion to seek medical advice. On the contrary, the implicit message is that the target audience is ignorant or misinformed and should get smart or get ‘left behind’. All coated, of course, in the thickest layers of treacle that years of experience in professional dramatics can muster.
What about the actors’ claim that “we all need to take the Covid 19 jab together”? This claim is cult rhetoric, in the same league as enjoining everyone at a séance to hold hands so that the spirits from the other side can be successfully summoned forth. Dr. Martin Kulldorff is a professor of medicine at Harvard University, a biostatistician, and epidemiologist with expertise in detecting and monitoring infectious disease outbreaks and vaccine safety evaluations. He participates in coronavirus vaccine safety groups advising the CDC, FIH, and FDA in the US. He publicly stated on Twitter that “thinking that everyone must be vaccinated is as scientifically flawed as thinking that nobody should.”
Twitter’s New Normal anti-scientific censorship machine quickly labelled this statement “misleading”. Kuldorff’s response to Twitter’s Pravda ‘fact checkers’ was: “I challenge Twitter to name vaccine experts believing that everyone, including children and those with prior immunity from natural infection, MUST be Covid vaccinated.” This is a reflection of the terrifying and highly organised repression of debate and scientific truth. There is no medical intervention for which one size fits all, which we all have to do together. That includes vaccines.
Endorsing The New Normal roll-back of human rights plus an own goal for anti-racism
To a Vaccine Evangelist, all of this might seem like an attempt by me, a layperson, to dissuade anyone from having a vaccine. It’s not. All of this is non-controversial information about the disease and about the vaccine safety process. It is for each individual to assess the available information about the vaccine they are considering, the facts about the disease and their personal health profile, and come to a decision that suits that person and that person alone. And implicit in this is the right to reject treatment without having to justify that decision. That is voluntary informed consent and has been the bedrock of medical ethics for nearly a century.
As for the tethering of vaccination to ‘passports’ that restrict your right to travel and participate in society, this would bring voluntary informed consent to an abrupt end and replace it with medical dictatorship. And once the voluntary part goes, so will the informed part. (It already has with these vaccines.) After all, why bother to educate the public about what is being pumped into their bodies if they don’t have a choice in the matter?
This looming medical dictatorship shares one important characteristic with slavery – it robs citizens of their right to bodily autonomy and sovereignty.
It’s tragically ironic that a group of people acutely aware of the pain of that chapter in history would unwittingly contribute to this unfolding crime against humanity. But they are. Through the complete omission of balanced information on relative risks and safety, the abandonment of human rights principles espousing bodily autonomy and voluntary informed consent and the presentation of a sinister choice between getting jabbed or getting ‘left behind’, Black people are being gaslit into rejecting their instincts. It’s bad enough that this is all packaged in a twisted parental declaration of love, but it gets worse.
I imagine white Britons (at least those who aren’t racist) are viewing this video and pondering the absurdity of a target audience being given permission to think ‘correctly’ on medical matters purely on the basis of a nod from individuals whose primary qualifications are, in order of importance for achieving the video’s goal, shared skin colour, fame and honorary titles. By entrenching thought patterns based on ethnicity, it’s an own goal for anti-racism.
The ways in which the surrender of our fundamental human right to bodily autonomy could be abused in the not-so-distant future are actually quite predictable. The global push for vaccine passports is nothing short of an attempt to create a digital ID for every human on the planet. The passport will control your movement and access to society. What you once regarded as rights will become privileges granted or withdrawn by digital administrators. The BBE Vaccine Evangelists blithely accept the inevitability of this nightmare with their claim that “the New Normal will mean needing a vaccine for the kinds of things we used to take for granted.”
Numerous other curbs on your freedom will then be added with the ease of rolling out an overnight software update, each update serving as a link in a chain binding us ever more tightly as slaves in a technocratic dystopia in which your behaviour is controlled by rewards and punishments administered through a digital passport. This is not far-fetched ‘conspiracy theory’ – it’s already happening in China. In a wide-ranging analysis of the relative impact on China and the West of Coronavirus policies, the economics editor at Open Democracy, writing in April 2020, observed:
“Thanks to the coronavirus, China’s surveillance architecture could arrive in the West much sooner than we think. Once surveillance measures are introduced, it is likely that they will be extremely difficult to unwind. “The relationship between the citizen and the state here in the West will never be the same again after the Pandemic,” Paran Chandrasekaran, Chief Executive of Scentrics, a privacy focused software developer, recently told The Times.”
Telling someone to have a medical treatment is medical advice. You should probably be qualified. Even your GP rarely tells you to go down a particular path to address a medical concern. Options are presented, including the option of doing nothing. Information on potential risks and benefits is provided and the patient decides knowing that there is no ‘punishment’ for doing nothing other than the related medical risk. Pressuring an entire population group into having a medical treatment with no consideration of whether it might be unsuitable for some within the group is potentially criminal. The fact that the government is engaging in outright coercion of the entire country should not be an invitation for others to follow. This just widens the target of potential lawsuits.
Before anyone accuses me of telling people not to have the vaccine, which would also be medical advice, read the article again carefully. As a counterbalance to the fact-free Black British Establishment’s Vaccine Evangelism, I have mentioned publicly available facts about the risk of the disease, highlighted that vaccines are not without risk and emphasised the right of the individual to make a genuinely free choice based on balanced information tailored to their unique situation.
From a purely medical standpoint, it is shocking that governments the world over are pushing for the entire planet to be vaccinated against a virus with an overall survival rate of 99.85% which (according to UK government’s Chief Medical Adviser) “a significant proportion of people will not get” and, of those who do get it, “probably 80%” will experience no symptoms or mild symptoms. It’s not a narrative the BBE Vaccine Evangelists are encouraging you to explore but if you wanted colour-free and factual information, you could visit UKMFA’s website where you can also find an open letter advising employees of their rights and warning employers of the legal implications of discriminating against existing or prospective employees.
And if you’re going to subject yourself to a fact-free, sinister ‘New Normal’ sermon by a cast of actors and clergy, you may as well hear from a consultant medical professional who wrote to the BMJ in response to the question: Do doctors have to have the covid-19 vaccine?
Here’s the gist of her answer:
“…what I am currently struggling with is the failure to report the reality of the morbidity caused by our current vaccination program within the health service and staff population. The levels of sickness after vaccination is unprecedented…which is having a huge impact on the health service function…Mandatory vaccination in this instance is stupid, unethical and irresponsible when it comes to protecting our staff and public health…it is clearly stated that these vaccine products do not offer immunity or stop transmission. In which case why are we doing it? There is no longitudinal safety data (a couple of months of trial data at best) available and these products are only under emergency licensing…Flu is a massive annual killer, it inundates the health system, it kills young people, the old the comorbid, and yet people can chose whether or not they have that vaccine…Coercion and mandating medical treatments on our staff, of members of the public especially when treatments are still in the experimental phase, are firmly in the realms of a totalitarian Nazi dystopia and fall far outside of our ethical values as the guardians of health…I would never debase myself and agree that we should abandon our liberal principles and the international stance on bodily sovereignty, free informed choice and human rights and support unprecedented coercion of professionals, patients and people to have experimental treatments with limited safety data. This and the policies that go with this are more of a danger to our society than anything else we have faced over the last year…What has happened to “my body my choice?” What has happened to scientific and open debate? If I don’t prescribe an antibiotic to a patient who doesn’t need it as they are healthy, am I… an antibiotic-denier? Is it not time that people truly thought about what is happening to us and where all of this is taking us?”
Indeed, just where is all of this taking us? As if wanting to answer the consultant’s question directly, the BMJ has since removed this letter, replacing it with Big Tech’s standard censorship stamp for ‘misinformation’:
“Important editorial notice for readers: This rapid response has been removed as it was being used to spread misinformation and was attributed in a misleading way on certain websites and social media. The Editor, 12/04/2021.”
So it did not actually contain misinformation, but rather it was being used to spread misinformation. In a democracy purporting to value free speech, how members of the public choose to use a medical professional’s factual statements can never be justification for censorship of the actual statements themselves. Their interpretation is open to debate and if vaccination of the entire population were a no-brainer, the public would accept it and medical professionals would not be seriously questioning it. The argument should be won by virtue of its being unassailable. That’s democracy’s strength: only the best arguments win because they can withstand the test of open debate.
We are not living in a democracy any longer and views which threaten the new medical dictatorship are being obliterated. I copied the doctor’s reply in full and too many others have seen it. It cannot be unseen and flushed down the memory hole.
Or why not hear from a group of Christian leaders who wrote an open letter to the Prime Minister. Taking a very different stance to the BBE Vaccine Evangelists’ threat of getting ‘left behind’, this group is “wholly opposed” to vaccine passports and has chosen to defend human rights and liberty with three arguments which are worth reproducing in full because of their power:
“Firstly, to make vaccination the basis of whether someone is allowed entry to a venue, or participation in an activity, makes no logical sense in terms of protecting others. If the vaccines are highly effective in preventing significant disease, as seems to be the evidence from trial results to date, then those who have been vaccinated have already received protection; there is no benefit to them of other people being vaccinated. Further, since vaccines do not prevent infection per se even a vaccinated person could in theory carry and potentially pass on the virus, so to decide someone’s “safe non-spreader” status on the basis of proof of their immunity to disease is spurious.
Secondly, the introduction of vaccine passports would constitute an unethical form of coercion and violation of the principle of informed consent. People may have various reasons for being unable or unwilling to receive vaccines currently available including, for some Christians, serious issues of conscience related to the ethics of vaccine manufacture or testing. We risk creating a two-tier society, a medical apartheid in which an underclass of people who decline vaccination are excluded from significant areas of public life. There is also a legitimate fear that this scheme would be the thin end of the wedge leading to a permanent state of affairs in which COVID vaccine status could be expanded to encompass other forms of medical treatment and perhaps even other criteria beyond that. This scheme has the potential to bring about the end of liberal democracy as we know it and to create a surveillance state in which the government uses technology to control certain aspects of citizens’ lives. As such, this constitutes one of the most dangerous policy proposals ever to be made in the history of British politics.
Finally, as Christian leaders we wish to state that we envisage no circumstances in which we could close our doors to those who do not have a vaccine passport, negative test certificate, or any other “proof of health”. For the Church of Jesus Christ to shut out those deemed by the state to be social undesirables would be anathema to us and a denial of the truth of the Gospel. The message we preach is given by God for all people and consists in nothing other than the free gift of grace offered in Christ Jesus, with the universal call to repentance and faith in him. To deny people entry to hear this life-giving message and to receive this life-giving ministry would be a fundamental betrayal of Christ and the Gospel. Sincere Christian churches and organisations could not do this, and as Christian leaders we would be compelled to resist any such Act of Parliament vigorously.” [Bold emphasis added]
We often make light of moral dilemmas by asking, “What would Jesus do?” Well, if you want to know what Jesus would do in the face of the New Normal and vaccine passports, there are some pretty strong clues in the letter above. The Right Reverend Rose Hudson-Wilkin, one of the BBE Vaccine Evangelists, may wish to examine this letter closely and ask whether the New Normal video in which she so enthusiastically played her part has struck the right note.