In James Allen’s excellent article in The Australian ,“Vaccine Mandates set us on path towards segregation and despotism” (31 Dec 2021), he suggests that vaccine mandates by politicians and senior health bureaucrats are a terrible mistake. This is because they are illiberal, creating a dual class in society, jettisoning equality before the law.
As Covid-19 has not demonstrated the same lethality as the Spanish flu or the Black Death, it is hard to defend what amounts to a huge inroads into the basic standards of a functioning liberal democracy.
Allen writes “If your inclination is to support mandates, remember this: for those who catch Covid-19 and who are not vaccinated, 99.7 per cent survive. For those under 50, you’ll get about one death for every 50,000 people who catch it. This virus is dangerous, but it is selectively dangerous. If you are over 80, or obese, or have a number of comorbidities, then look out.”
Allen, who is double-vaccinated (but not triple jabbed), thinks it is disgraceful that our society is moving towards a “soft despotism and soft segregationism” by making it impossible for the unvaccinated to work or to go to certain venues, given the minimal level of danger involved.
For this new medical caste system to make sense, he writes, “first there needs to be clear evidence that unvaccinated people are considerably more likely to transmit Covid than the vaccinated. You won’t hear this much in the media, but there is no such evidence. Indeed, most of the recent studies point the other way. A November 2021 Yale study concluded “clinicians and public health practitioners should consider vaccinated persons who become infected with SARS-CoV-2 to be no less infectious than unvaccinated persons”.
“One in the scientific journal Nature showed the effectiveness of vaccines in reducing transmission fades to practically zero after three months. In heavily vaccinated Germany, things are worse on all metrics in 2021 than in 2020, when there were no vaccines.”
He continues “The latest UK Health Security Agency surveillance reports of hospital admissions, while showing the vaccinated do significantly better, also show the vaccinated can still be infected, pass on infection, become ill and die. They make up 52 per cent of hospital admissions and 73 per cent of deaths. The real-world data – not computer modelling – gives evidence for personal protection but provides no reason for supporting vaccine apartheid.”
Allen believes the lockdowns have been a terrible error, which will become obvious in due course.
He mentions Sweden, which never locked down, now shows that its age-adjusted excess deaths through this pandemic are below the rolling 2015-19 average. And its Covid rate is down in the bottom half in Europe.
Deaths due to lockdowns will end up out-numbering those saved by lockdowns.
Allen also focuses on Florida, with the lowest Covid rates in the USA. “A state with no mask rules for the past 10 months or so, no vaccine mandate, no lockdowns and indeed a mandate against vaccine (job-sacking) mandates.”
All no-vaccine mandate US states are outperforming the mandate states.
Allen states “The facts are now clear that the gains (if any) from heavy-handed vaccine mandates (that would cost people jobs and severely affect dissenting students) are so marginal that they patently do not justify the restriction of liberty.
Moreover, once we have started down a path on which tiny gains in public health do justify the suspension of our liberties, that opens the door to many more restrictions in return for other supposed benefits. You have to have heroic levels of trust in government to think mandates are a good idea, especially now it is plain that the overwhelming benefit of the vaccine flows to those who take it for a few months per shot, and almost none to bystanders. Remember, Omicron was spread rapidly all over the world solely by the fully vaccinated and masked-while-flying travellers, as only they could travel internationally during this time.”
Without doubt, Vaccine mandates amount to terrible, illiberal public policy.
The Federal government says it is against such mandates but it takes virtually no concrete steps to put its money where its mouth is, preferring weasel-word formulations about leaving it to businesses to decide.
Allen continues “Florida Governor Ron DeSantis knew this was a bogus formulation and acted accordingly. But even if you buy the Morrison line, look at all the things of which the federal government is the main funder – think universities, the public service, the military and more.
Will the government prohibit all of these from bringing in vaccine mandates? Because right now Coalition MPs who say they are against vaccine mandates are not leaving cabinet on the issue, not speaking out for action, not criticising businesses or states. They’re not walking the walk, just murmuring a bit of cheap talk.”
Allen is spot on. Vaccine mandates are a terrible, illiberal, slippery-slope idea. Take a stand against this now, or forever expect despotic, heavy-handed government.
Note: James Allan is Garrick professor of law at the University of Queensland.