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October 22, 2021

Covid Cassandra peers into the future

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As the COVID lockdowns draw to a close, there are still people who profess themselves unwilling to vaccinate under any circumstances, and who object to bearing any consequences that may arise.

But, the vaccinated majority argues, if your profession mandates vaccination and you refuse, you have ceased to be eligible for that profession. Only in some libertarian dystopia would there be an absolute right to remain unvaccinated if your job involves treating the sick, caring for the old or teaching the young.

Citizenship limbo

Therefore, when we open up, the refuseniks will find themselves in a citizenship limbo, as without vaccination certificates the law may exclude them from travel, certain occupations and some public places. However, as governments do not have, and should not have, the machinery to enact this level of surveillance, it is easy to foresee serious conflict if enforcement is left to small business retailers and employers.

Already anti-vaxxers see themselves as oppressed men and women of principle, like the political prisoners of dictatorships. Some are framing themselves as crusading Davids against the corrupt and corporate Goliath state. They imply that if you do not stand up for their rights you are complicit in the depravities of the government.

Their numbers may be small but they are not insignificant, and therefore they will come to be represented politically in one way or the other. And what kind of politics best accommodates a movement based on distrust?

In the USA anti-vaccination has been adopted by the Republican Party as an implicit policy. The further towards Trump and the far right you go, the more anti-science the political rhetoric becomes.

America has apparently split into two camps, those who support public health measures, including mandated vaccination, and those who do not, because well, freedom. Both sides are represented in their political and media systems.

Moreover, in the USA there is a correlation between Republican states and high COVID death rates. So far we have not had a political party here committed to the anti-vaxxer cause, but if the Nationals or Liberals see electoral advantage in adopting Republican memes, as some of their crazier members already do, then we could see a sudden upsurge in cases, hospitalisations and deaths.

Move to the right

More likely, with better COVID antibody treatments becoming available, we will be spared catastrophe, but there will be a general movement to the right in politics.

WTF? A pandemic has caused us temporarily to restrict personal freedom, and from that circumstance derives a trend towards anti-science and right-wing politics?

Well, there is a clash between the right not to be vaccinated and the right of others not to be infected. Such conflicts of rights are common, and we traditionally accept constraints on personal liberty for the principle of the greater good. But if one is heavily invested in the right not to be vaccinated, and yet this right can be overridden by the public safety principle, the only explanation is that there must be something wrong with the principle.

This cognitive dissonance is one of the reasons for the concerted attack on medical science. If the pandemic demands of you an unacceptable course of action, then it is necessary to believe that the vaccines don’t work, or the virus is not real, or the dangers are exaggerated for the profit of corporations and politicians. No evidence to the contrary can be entertained, for that would lead to an admission that public health trumps private liberty, instead of the other way round.

Restoring freedoms

The danger is that people who believe this fantasy might form a radicalised group of outsiders who feel they have no place in society. Such a group would be natural recruits for the far right.

Therefore, when the health emergency subsides, it is imperative to restore, without delay, the freedoms we have curtailed. Otherwise it is possible that 2022 might see even more irrational politics than we’ve seen so far.


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39 COMMENTS

  1. And what did the government expect would happen when they will not mandate compulsory vaccination.
    It is not the people’s fault to take their rights of a democracy.
    When the government tells the people that we live in a democratic society and then tells them they have the right to refuse … what are the people going to do?
    That is right. Refuse. The government gave them the right to refuse.
    The government brought this problem upon themselves when they did not mandate compulsory vaccination.

    • Once was our Echo, now just an echo of Govt & big business propaganda.

      Respect choice, “vaccines will not be mandatory”… that’s what we are told remember?

      As for the writer of this article suggesting a “concerted attack on medical science” have you lost your ability to process simple information and facts David?

      There is no long-term scientific data, the jabs are in trial phase.
      The scientists don’t know, kind of important to make an informed decision about your health for the remainder of your life don’t you think?

      Most I know who remain prick free, are pro-science and you call them “refuseniks” for perhaps, just maybe, being wise to opt out of medical experiments.

      Time is the greatest judge, save your barbs.

  2. Yes all people against mandated vaccs are trump supporting far right loons, just like anyone protesting for the environment are dole bludger ferals
    It’s normal to catagorise those we don’t agree with makes it easier to engage in the hate
    The refugees from the wars we participated in were turned into boat people potential terrorist country hopping queue jumpers that needed to be locked up.
    Cassandra is manufacturing consent to demonise those that choose to not participate in this mass delusion bht come December we can all go to kmart and continue our shallow existence as Australians.

  3. Smear, smear and more smear from a man I once much admired. That’s depressing.

    “ the freedoms we have curtailed ”… yes David you did play your part and what is lost will not return… not even for the fully coerced and what of a future conditional upon remaining coerced.

  4. Gee David, all us unvaxed freaks who don’t fit in might have to find a lovely place in the country where we can get on with existing as a minority … like those other freaks who came to Mullum in the ‘70’s…

  5. This is another rant of an article by the Echo. Attempting division and belittlement by labelling people ‘anti’ this and ‘right wing’ that… Without any real knowledge of the serious damage that both the authorities and the vaccines are doing to people and society at large. I really do believe the Echo have absolutely no idea what is actually going on here. And somehow think this is all temporary and vaxxing everyone will make it just all go away. When exactly the opposite is true.

    • john it is you who has “absolutely no idea what is actually going on here.”. You represent a small minority in a small corner of Oz. Proof of statement , which you rarely provide, is 75% of Shire has their first dose and this will reach 90%

      • This is what is going on here whether you want to help or not:-
        Byron and Mullum postcodes have a population of 26,611 people and a double vaccination rate of 47.3%
        When Sydney had 47.3% on 15 September the infection rate was 1200 people that day and 11 people died in the seriously infected areas of Western Sydney which has about 1,000,000 people.
        Therefore it would be expected that Byron and Mullumbimby will have proportionally about 24 cases per day and 1-2 people per week will die at 47.3%.
        The only way to reduce this is to get vaccinated
        Yesterday 406 people were infected in NSW mostly in Sydney and 6 people died and the double vaccination rate was 76.5%.
        From this we can expect the infection rate in Byron and Mullum to be 8 cases per day and the death rate would be 1-2 people per month when our area reaches 76.5% double vaccinated
        Sick Sydney will arrive in Byron on 25 Oct at the latest but the 76.5% rate will not be reached until December.
        Also Byron and Mullum have overall poor masking, distancing and other poor health measures and PARTICULARLY THERE WILL NOT BE A LOCKDOWN WHEN THIS HAPPENS so we can expect the above figures to be worse

      • john I should have added that the “small corner of Oz” which I mentioned is only 26,611 people in Byron and Mullum. If 75% are already vaxxed then 26,611 people x 75% is 6,600 people. This is the max number you can claim “to know what is going on here” and my guess is you have well less than half of those who listen to your type of misinformation. The numbers don’t lie like others I know do.

    • I agree it makes me sad. And why bring Trump into it, he advocated for the vax, and still does. It seems like it’s just written to create more division. Life has become incredibly hard for so many, I think some messages of hope right now are needed

  6. Yes, there are many people who have been traumatized by the segregation that means people are treated as “trash” with the right to buy food, or enter the pub or even not able to run their market stalls all denied.. How wonderful to be also labeled “refusniks” and what ever label those who choose to be vaccinated wish to use.
    The right to choose is enacted in international law that Australia is a signatory and is not a favor bestowed to us. This freedom is something that we should be treasure rather than be subjected to the “Soup” Nazi who dishes it out only to the compliant. Wonder if you would be as liberal if is was china and the Ughars?
    Moving on, my advice to everyone is go prepare yourself and have your early treatment of choice ready at home. Go to your family doctor and find what is good for your personal circumstance. This way when you are sent home to isolate because a Covid wave hits Northern rivers, you will be able to reduce the risk of having to present to hospital. I imagine you will won’t be able to visit a doctor once sick.
    And to all the un-vaccinated. Hey Chill 🙂 and relax at home with an early treatment protocol.. Not being in Public means that the sanctimonious will have nobody else to blame once the Covid wave hits because the vaccinated are nowhere to be found in public. Sadly, it is hard to believe that our community will do any better than the highly vaccinated Israel which suffered an even higher second Covid wave recently from July thorough to September. No amount of self-righteous pontificating will change what will unfold and we will all learn the truth as it unfolds.
    So be safe regardless of your belief and consider this Indian proverb.
    “Trust in God, but row away from the rocks”

  7. Emily Stewart, Just because you are down with an invasive medical procedure that has no long-term safety data and has injured millions and killed 1000s world wide, doesn’t mean everyone has to have the same view as you. And if you are so confident the gene jab protects you, why should you worry about the people who choose not to take the gene jab?
    This has all but been made mandatory anyway. No jab, no freedoms, no job. And if the government can do this, what is next?
    No jab, go to gaol?
    Thought crime go to gaol?
    We’ll see how you feel after your tenth booster shot, that’s how many of these jabs the govt has bought.
    It’s the govt that forced lockdowns and business closures, not the people who chose not to be jabbed with a plastic coated synthetic mRNA that hijacks your cells and enduces your ribosomes to make a virus sprike protein toxin.
    Free speech and free choice is essential to a democracy.
    There are plenty of people who are giving up a lot by standing up for what they believe in.
    This isn’t about a virus, this is about govt control.

  8. Some good points. But you fail to mention the key fact: covid vaccines to not prevent infection or transmission.

    Therefore the mandate to impose vaccine passes or enforce vaccination is erroneous.

    A vaccinated individual can still transmit the virus to an unvaccinated or indeed to a vaccinated person.

    • There are two prevailing myths that seem on rotation in these pages. They also contradict each other contradict each other and show some cherry picking from the “research”.

      1. That those who are vaccinated can’t get infected so they won’t have anything to fear from the unvaccinated

      2. Vaccines don’t stop you getting or passing on infection therefore it won’t make any difference to the safety of others.

      There is much evidence that covid vaccines do prevent infection or transmission just not with 100% efficacy. Vaccination that is not 100% effective (most vaccines) relies on a general uptake to reduce the amount of virus circulating.

      Because “ A vaccinated individual can still transmit the virus to an unvaccinated or indeed to a vaccinated person”, does not indicate the error of vaccination mandates. Why? – because the unvaccinated person, who is in greater danger of being infected, is unlikely to keep it to themselves.

      Without the impact of vaccines the Delta variant is thought to have a reproduction rate of 5-8 – that is each infected person infects 5-8 other unprotected people who then infect 5-8 other people and so on. You can see where this ends. Spiralling out of control.

      Every time vaccination prevents a person getting or passing on the infection interrupts the spiral and this have a cumulative effect. It’s not about individual examples – it’s a numbers game.

  9. I am not an anti vaxxer. I have had my first vaccine. However, I am totally sick of the bullying and shaming of people who do not want to have the vaccine. As a vaccinated person I should be protected so I am not fearful of unvaccinated people. Unfortunately covid has been as devisive an issue as climate change, religion or anything else where people have differing views. Coercion, shaming and bullying are not effective. Clear and reasoned information, instead of fear mongering, might be more effective.

  10. Thank you for this thoughtful insight and hopefully Australia will draw back from such far right hostile politics. Big picture views are so important.Let’s also reflect that ‘life w covid’ will not be similar to ‘life with flu’. What impresses me most, as highlighted in a recent Conversation article by medical experts, is that covid has a very high transmission number- it spreads very very quickly. Vaccines do not halt spread so in days to come clusters and outbreaks will still occur. Different people will get sick more than others, even with vaccines. All the public health tools – masks, distancing,isolation even lockdowns, will continue to be needed – and should be used- to wrangle and limit a still mutating virus, active year round and able to cause long term physical damage and death. Every month, every citizen newly diagnosed w heart disease or cancer or other chronic problems suddenly becomes a member of that beleagured cohort ‘ the vulnerable to covid’. Their susceptibility greatly increases. Hopefully, if we still require to use various public health tools, and maybe install permanent covid beds/wards in hospitals, this will supported by most everyone of every political opinion. Doing right by public health, to help us all live free from the griefs of preventable illnesses, work hazards,drunk driving, open sewerage , foul air,poisons are all part of our most basic freedom/responsibility. This is the urgent fight/care which continues to call to us.

  11. ” Only in some libertarian dystopia would there be an absolute right to remain unvaccinated.. ”
    Pfft. You know as well as we do that this vaccine is experimental and is proving to be ineffective at stopping any spread or contraction or DEATH from covid.
    The insanity of thinking this experimantal vaccine that doesn’t work is a golden ticket to being immune to the horrors of a virus you have approximately 99.5% of surviving is only in existence because of the constant brainwhashing by the mainstream media. What did we do to have the Echo begin such flagrant bull peddling? Now the only beficial place for the Echo seems to be the compost heap. Awful, awful ‘news’ providers. It’s shameful, and devastating to a once enlightened community. Do you even care about this community anymore? You’re clearly trying to divide us using absolute nonsense.

    • How can one be so misinformed this far into the pandemic? Astounding really. “Ineffective at stopping the spread, contraction or death”… are you completely blind to statistics that don’t support your view?

  12. Never thought I’d see the day The Echo would help any narrative that would help drive a wedge in the population especially within the shire. The Echo, once the voice of reason, the underdog…. maybe no longer. I now no longer align with Greens either thanks Mandy. So, that part of your article has legs. If the main parties wont stand for our individual freedoms then there are independents or the likes of Paulina or Clive bless their cotton socks. BUT we know with those there’s also a downside. Which is the lesser of two evils. There is plenty of science to cause just concern to the dangers of the trial vaccines by Doctors and scientists alike of standing. I was in a conversation with a scientist who had worked at one of the COVID manufacturers for over a decade and just quit her job because of the way the vaccine roll out has been handled including the drug company not having a database of adverse reactions which is unprecedented. I will not divulge who..Seems I did your job for you David but you wont investigate because you are showing your biases.

  13. Mr. Lovejoy. You should know that there is an ever-growing number of normal people from all walks of life. All genders, Vaxxed and unvaxxed who have and are coming to a realisation that you and your ilk are part of a mechanism to steer the minds of the people based on something which is becoming much larger than just a jab in the arm of some experimental RNA product referred to as a vaccine. A product which is ineffective and proving so more and more and which can be detrimental to ones health. Onto which we are coming to understand the controls being exerted upon the people and the use of force to ensure absolute compliance. So much so the rest of the world looks at us in amazement. And here we are with you pushing that barrow. Shame on you!

  14. Thanks for that opinion piece David . You have thus far only attracted replys that seem to disagree with you . Many people agree with you 100%..I sure do . In six months or so we may find many antivaxers change their mind . But don’t be surprised if they twist the narrative to suit their latest conspiracy . They sure have a habit of twisting the evidence whenever presented with any scientific data whatsoever that does not appeal .

    • 🎅 Santa has been reading all your posts 🎅

      🧑‍🎄

      🎅 Most of you are getting science books 🎄📚

      (Not original 🧑‍🎄)

  15. Wonderful piece David. I certainly worry about these vote grabbing populists who are no doubt rubbing their hands together with glee. They know their audience of apathetic and (mostly) politically illiterate voters, who care not for anyone’s freedom but their own, will soon, if not already be sharing far right memes with gusto. The major parties have brought this upon themselves though. A lack of accountability leads to mistrust and now the immunocompromised are left having to suffer the consequences.

  16. David I’m very disappointed to see you pushing the gov divide and conquer agenda. Especially seeing as it’s pretty much down the centre here in Mullum. Your arguments are so full of holes they don’t deserve a response except to say by 2022 it will be too late to restore our freedoms. They will be all gone and the damage to our community done. Thanks echo. Independent newspaper? I doNot think so.

    • I agree Dean, that we need to be ever vigilant about the curtailing of our freedoms by government. There needs to be good reason for it. I’d say that a pandemic caused by a new virus, that has now managed in such a short time to throw up such an infectious and seemingly more virulent variant is good reason for extraordinary measures. I know you don’t agree.

      I also believe that without the consent of the masses, there is ultimately no way to get the sort of cooperation that has seen this country avoid the despair this pandemic has caused across the globe. You call them deluded but I see them as people prepared to accept what the majority of scientists have advised and care sufficiently about each other to temporarily forgo their rights.

      Where you see the mask as a symbol of oppression and unquestioning gullibility I see it as informed solidarity. We’ll have to just be different.

      I don’t share your fears for 2022 either. Our new Premier, Dom Pérignon, is champing at the bit to give us our freedoms back so we can hit the shops and the holiday spots and spend, spend spend. Yes in the meantime over 90% of the adult population seems to have agreed to be vaxxed.

      But all I can think of is how disastrous 2022 would otherwise be, with thousands of positive cases every day, medical staff trying to decide who gets IC and ventilators, ambulances ramped in hospital car parks and little chance of any other medical care for anything non urgent. Exaggeration? Except that this was already apparent in Sydney a few weeks and go and at present in Melbourne. And this is with a hospitalisation rate halved from the 2020 wave – by the protection against serious disease offered by the vaccines.

      All worth a bit of cooperation, I reckon.

  17. Look at the Echo these days, they largely live off real estate advertising and their contributors have to follow the guidance of the financial backers,the Echo has sadly gone down to the level of the Byron Shire News,which was owned by Rupert Murdoch and David Lovejoy,Mandy Nolan,David Heilpern spew out the same crap as they know that the great majority of people are fed the mainstream media news and they know that the financial backers of the Echo would destroy them if they would question their agenda! I don’t want to have the Echo thrown in my yard anymore,it’s now junk mail for me,sadly!

  18. insightful article, as the population moves to 90+% vaccination, the anti-vaxxers, who at best represent 3%, are being pushed back into their rabbit-holes. its just a shame that they chose to push their political aspirations through the efforts to mitigate the pandemic. the community has suffered through their disingenuous and misplaced recalcitrance.

  19. Great to see open discussion. I also really enjoyed the creative expression that were (once) mainstream regarding human induced climate change. The vaci topic has the same narrative > including demonising the messenger. As with the climate emergency, we sit around discussing the colours of the flames as Rome burns.

  20. One question for David:
    Will the people who have chosen natural immunity through infection, perhaps mitigating the severity of their infection through an unapproved alternative protocol rather than vaccination, be able to receive immunity status, (a vaccine passport), or does natural immunity have no place amidst pandemic fear and the new democracy our government is presenting to us.
    The further towards Andrews and the far left you go, the more suppressed the science, that does not fit their narrative, and political dissent, becomes.
    This cognitive dissonance is one of the reasons for the concerted suppression of medical science.
    On 9 March 2021, AHPRA published a position statement:
    • Any health advice which contradicts the national immunization campaign may be subject to regulatory action. (i.e. de-registration)
    If the pandemic demands of you an unacceptable course of action, then it is necessary to control the narrative.
    IS NATURAL IMMUNITY THROUGH INFECTION ACCEPTABLE?

  21. An interesting collection of comments, some if them proving my point that the anti-vaccination movement will skew our political discourse towards the right.
    Invoking human rights to defend not getting vaccinated when one’s profession is caring for the old, the sick and the young is a bit of a stretch; ironically, on the far right of politics human rights are not on the agenda.
    I hope I am wrong about this shift, and we will find out soon enough when Morrison has to call an election. In the meantime Clive Palmer’s anti-vaxxer, climate-change denying Australian Party is spending ten times more on advertising than any other party.
    It must surely give one pause to be associated with a man who would set fire to the atmosphere if he thought it would bring him any advantage.

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