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How fear fuels the vaccine wars Covid has been a revelation and an accelerant

when people are frightened, they can be easily controlled. Credit: Piero Cruciatti/AFP via Getty

when people are frightened, they can be easily controlled. Credit: Piero Cruciatti/AFP via Getty


November 30, 2021   9 mins

Perhaps it’s my age, or perhaps it’s just blind prejudice, but when I wake to the news that the Austrian government has interned an entire third of its national population as a danger to public health, a chill runs down my spine.

I look at the news photos of armed, masked, black-clad police stopping people in the streets to ask for their digital papers, and I read stories of others arrested for leaving their own house more than the permitted once a day, and I hear Austrian politicians intoning that those who refuse to accede to the injection are to be shunned and scapegoated until they acquiesce.

Then I watch interviews with “ordinary people”, and they say that the “unvaxxed” had it coming. Some of them say that they should all be jailed, these enemies of the people. At best, the “anti-vaxxers” are paranoid and misinformed. At worst they are malicious, and should be punished.

Then I look across the border at Germany. I see that in Germany, politicians are also considering interning the “vaccine hesitant”, and are also discussing enforcing vaccination upon every citizen. By the end of the winter, says Germany’s refreshingly honest health minister, Germans will be “vaccinated, cured or dead”. There is apparently no fourth option.

They have been busy in Germany. Recently they put up fences in the streets in Hamburg, to separate the Bad Unvaxxed from the Good Vaxxed at the Christmas markets. Outdoors. Perhaps they will also provide the Good people with rocks to throw across those fences. The mood certainly seems ripe. A cartoon recently published in the mainstream, high-circulation newspaper FrankfĂŒrter Allgemeine Zeitung featured a man sitting on his sofa playing a first-person shooter game in which the targets were unvaccinated people. The caption described it as “a big hit under the Christmas tree.”

Not that Germans or Austrians have any monopoly on the current march towards authoritarianism in the name of public health. It is entirely globalised. The opinion recently expressed by Pulitzer Prize-winning American art critic Jerry Saltz to his half a million Twitter followers was typical of a new form of class hatred that is somehow acceptable in the age of cancellations and hyper-sensitivity. “My latest Covid thought is ‘Let her rip:’”, he wrote. “Meaning, we who are lucky enough to be triple & double vaxed are pretty protected. Let the rest die. I know they pose a danger to us all. But we are more than 97% protected from them. If they want to die, I say let them die. Freedom.”

Across Europe and the wider world, the picture is the same. Internment. Mandatory medication. Segregation of whole sections of society. Mass sackings. A drumbeat media consensus. The systematic censoring of dissent. The deliberate creation of a climate of fear and suspicion. The deepening demonisation of the “unvaxxed”. Something terrible is rising around us, and we are only just waking up to it.

I am watching all this from Ireland, the country which has the highest adult vaccination rate in Western Europe, at over 94% of the population. Here, cases are accelerating so fast that we were all told recently to work from home, and another lockdown is widely feared. New restrictions for children, who are least at risk from Covid, are being proposed, and a midnight curfew has recently been imposed on pubs and nightclubs. This is odd, as only vaccinated people have been allowed into them since the summer, with the scan of a smartphone-enabled QR code being the only way to access much of society.

In an honest society, all of this would have been subject to robust public debate. We would have seen scientists of all opinions openly debating on TV and radio and in the press; views of all kinds aired on social media without fear of censorship; journalists properly investigating reports of both vaccine successes and vaccine dangers; serious explorations of alternative treatments; public debates about the balance between civil liberties and public health, and what “public health” even means.

But we have not seen this and we will not see it, for debate, like dissent, is out of fashion. The media here has not asked a critical question of anyone in authority for at least 18 months. Google’s algorithms are busy burying inconvenient data, while the social media channels from which most people receive their worldview are removing or suppressing critical opinions, even if they come from virologists or editors of the British Medical Journal.

What could possibly justify this? One answer might be: the combination of a terrible pandemic which killed or maimed large percentages of those it infected, and the existence of a safe and reliable medicine which was proven to prevent its spread. This, of course, is what we are said to be living through. This is the Narrative.

But it is clear enough by now that the Narrative is not true. Covid-19 is certainly a nasty illness which should be taken seriously, especially by those who are especially vulnerable to it. For the elderly and infirm especially, it can be a serious risk. But it is not dangerous enough — if anything could be — to justify the frightening atmosphere which is rising across the world. The authoritarian response to the virus has become the go-to solution for governments everywhere, and the climate of fear in society as a whole has often meant enthusiastic support for such a response. As the vaccines fail to end the pandemic, new variants continue to arise and every promise of “unlocking” ends with the reimposition of restrictions, so the calls grow for more clampdowns, more segregation, more isolation and internment. With each call, a new roughness comes over the culture.

This roughness is what leads to the persecution, abuse and scapegoating of anyone foolish enough to stick their head above the parapet and question the Narrative, and that in turn leads to more people walking away from those who promote it. The solidarity of the pandemic’s early days already feels like a century ago. Day by day, the combination of breakdown and clampdown eats like acid through the social fabric of a society already riven by a “culture war” that seeks enemies first and understanding very much later.

All of this has descended like a flock of birds on one single technology — “the vaccine” — on which all hopes and fears converge. But the divisions that have opened up in society about the Covid vaccines are not really about the vaccines at all: they are about what they symbolise. What it means to be “vaxxed” or “unvaxxed”, safe or dangerous, clean or dirty, sensible or irresponsible, compliant or independent: these are questions about what it means to be a good member of society, and what society even is, and they are detonating like depth charges beneath the surface of the culture.

In his fascinating Substack newsletter The Stoa, academic Peter Limberg proposes an analysis of the ongoing Covid wars. He identifies two positions on the virus and the reaction to it. Both are generalisations — plenty of people will cleave fully to neither — but broadly speaking, which you identify with will inform your view of who the Other is.

Limberg describes the first position — the Thesis — like this:

Lockdowns are needed to contain the virus, masks work and need to be mandated, vaccines are safe, people should take the vaccine to protect themselves and others, and vaccine passports will help open things up quicker and encourage those who are hesitant to get vaccinated.

The Thesis is the establishment position. It is held, in Limberg’s words, by “legacy media … NGOs, Universities, Western governments, and memetic tribes on the political Left.” In contrast, the opposing view — the Antithesis — is held by a ragtag of political dissidents of all stripes, from rightwingers to anarchists, motivated to cluster for different reasons around an alternative story:

Lockdowns are not needed, masks do not work, the safety and efficacy of the vaccines are being oversold, vaccine passports will not only fail but further segregate society, and in the near future we can expect Giradian scapegoating of the unvaccinated. In other words, we are positioned on the precipice of a slippery slope that leads towards increasingly draconian biopolitical control measures, the grip of which is unlikely to release even once the pandemic is over.

What we see around us now, as the Thesis visibly fails, is more and more people looking around for explanations and landing on versions of the Antithesis. As that happens, more of those who support the Thesis feel threatened and angry. The people questioning the Thesis, to them, are not thinking human beings wondering what is going on and not getting satisfactory answers. They are “conspiracy theorists” and “anti-vaxxers” and “far-Right actors”, whose views will lead to mass death.

In response to this intolerance, the more extreme elements of the Antithesis position dig in deeper, offering up intolerance of their own, condemning the “sheeple” who still cleave to the Narrative, and proposing alternative stories which range from convincing right up to frightening. Some of the worst home straight in on old enemies: ‘the Jews’, as ever, are a popular target. This in turn allows proponents of the Thesis to conveniently represent any opposition to their line as dangerous and worthy of censorship. Fear and suspicion reign. Neither tribe is talking to the other, and each assumes the worst of their opponents.

Take these two positions, electrify them, pour them through the sieve of misery that is “social” media, and you have the current vaccine wars. The rage that swirls around the attitude to the Covid jab is a substitute for something else. Underneath the arguments about whether or not to take a vaccine glides something older, deeper, slower: something with all the time in the world. Some great spirit whose work is to use these fractured times to reveal to us all what we need to see: things hidden since the foundation of the modern world.

Covid is a revelation. It has lain bare splits in the social fabric that were always there but could be ignored in better times. It has revealed the compliance of the mainstream media, and the power of Silicon Valley to curate and control the public conversation. It has confirmed the sly dishonesty of political leaders, and their ultimate obeisance to corporate power. It has shown how ideology, on all sides, can mask itself with the pretend neutrality of “science”.

Most of all, it has revealed the authoritarian streak that lies beneath so many people, and which always emerges in fearful times. In the last month alone, I have watched media commentators calling for censorship of their political opponents, philosophy professors justifying mass internment, and human rights lobby groups remaining silent about “vaccine passports”. I have watched much of the political Left transition openly into the authoritarian movement it probably always was, and countless “liberals” campaigning against liberty. As freedom after freedom has been taken away, I have watched intellectual after intellectual justify it all.

I have learnt more about human nature in the past two years than in my preceding 47. I have learnt some things about myself too, and I don’t especially like them either. I have noticed my ongoing temptation to become a partisan: to judge and condemn those on the other side of the question, to find a tribe I can join. I have noticed my tendency to seek out only sources of information which confirm my beliefs.

Most of all, though, what the Covid apocalypse has revealed to me is that when people are frightened, they can be very easily controlled.

Of all the stories we are watching play out right now, this is the biggest one: the manipulation of public fear to impose unprecedented levels of control on populations. The ongoing nature of the Covid threat — the endless boosters, the endless variants — means there is no end in sight to this “new normal”. Like the War on Terror before it, the control and monitoring of citizens in the name of “public health”, the segregation of the virtuous vaxxed (or, any day now, boosted) from the antisocial unvaxxed, the internet-wide censorship of whatever Silicon Valley labels “disinformation”, and the widespread obedience of the once-mainstream press to an agreed story towards which they clumsily try to nudge their readers — none of this has any sell-by date.

This is the story of the times. Across the world we are seeing an unprecedented claim to control staked by the forces of the state, in alliance with the forces of corporate capital, over your life and mine. All of it converges on the revealed symbol of our age: the smartphone-enabled QR code that has, with frightening speed and in near-silence, become the new passport to a full human life. As ever, our tools have turned on us.

The Covid vaccines, whatever their other virtues, have not prevented transmission of the virus, as governments have now publicly acknowledged. If they had, we would not be where we are. For this reason alone, there can be no justification for systems as divisive and anti-democratic as vaccine passports or lockdowns of the unvaccinated. If we were operating, as we pretend to be, from the ground of reason — if we really were “following the science” — then we would be dismantling these systems at this point. Instead we are moving deeper into them.

We are being herded into a future in which scanning a code to prove you are a safe and obedient member of society may become a permanent feature of life, as unquestioned as credit cards and driver’s licences. We are moving towards enforced mandatory vaccination of entire populations — including children — with potential prison sentences for those who refuse.

The Thesis, if left unchecked, leads straight to tyranny. But the danger of cleaving entirely to the Antithesis is a potential descent into paranoia. Both positions thrive on fear of the filthy Other, who must be destroyed with a barrage of claim and counter-claim, backed up by links to studies about ivermectin or vaccine side-effects.

Limberg puts his hope in the possibility of forging a Synthesis of the two positions. But in order to get there, he says, both sides must discover and inhabit the fears of the other: something which looks less likely by the day. As someone who began this pandemic journey cautiously cleaving to the Thesis, but who has tipped towards Antithesis as the Narrative has unspooled and the dishonesty of its proponents has become clear, I can explain my own fears easily enough.

In a short but momentous two years, we in the West, who have spent decades, if not centuries, lecturing the rest of the world about “freedom”, and sometimes trying to bomb them into accepting it, have abandoned ours without so much as a murmur, and begun enthusiastically scapegoating those who question this path. We who invented this thing called “liberalism” are now burying it, and building on the bare soil some technocratic state-corporate hybrid; a China-style social credit society, centralised, monitored, powered by algorithms, emphatically unnatural and unfree.

We are in a revolutionary moment. Societies are being transformed, with no public discussion and no consent, into a version of a Silicon Valley nerd’s wet dreams. Unless we can reach some form of synthesis soon — unless the sheeple can address the fears of the covidiots, and vice versa — then we risk being blinded to where the real power lies, and what is being constructed around us as we bicker and insult and pontificate.

Covid has been both revelation and accelerant. Now the direction of travel is increasingly clear. Unless we actively refuse it, our future looks like a QR code flickering across a human face forever.


Paul Kingsnorth is a novelist and essayist. His latest novel Alexandria is published by Faber. He also has a Substack: The Abbey of Misrule.


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Jane Watson
Jane Watson
2 years ago

You despair, and then read something like this, and realise not all is lost. Some people are still managing to stay sane.

Dan Gleeballs
Dan Gleeballs
2 years ago
Reply to  Jane Watson

I don’t despair, because I’ve lived long enough (at 50) to have seen panics come and go – the Millennium Bug, or Dangerous Dogs chewing toddlers in every town, or AIDS, or Swine Flu, or CJ Disease in every burger we ate, or Foot and Mouth, or IRA bombs, or Islamic terrorism!

The truth is both good and bad. We have a tendency to panic. We tend to see the world deteriorating as a function of getting older. Yet we survive, usually longer and healthier than previous generations.

Yes, I could have died in the Hyde Park IRA bomb. I heard it, after all. But I didn’t.

Exercise and try not to eat too much. Find a good woman who doesn’t mind being a bad one on special occasions, like Tuesdays.

Don’t worry so much. It isn’t the end of the world, it really isn’t. The past was usually terrible for 99% of all people everywhere. Today is better.

Last edited 2 years ago by Dan Gleeballs
Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
2 years ago
Reply to  Dan Gleeballs

This is orders of magnitude bigger than the things you mentioned. This is not about being inconvenienced by masks and lockdowns – it is the $11 Trillion printed with Debt in USA, on covid response. As USA Takes in about $6 Trillion in taxes and revenue a year, the National Debt is $130 Trillion, and ‘Unfunded Mandates’ are $78 Trillion (Federal and Military pensions SS, Medicare, Medicaid, and so on), and Biden is cranking up the debt by another $5 Trillion, and the FED is doing $120 Billion in QE every month to keep interest at zero – wile inflation is over 6% and the stock Market and all hard assets so inflated the bubble is about to burst, and the economy is limping – and the resulting Great Depression will cause a complete change in the World Order….this is not the BS you worried about back then….

Not to mention the Governments have basically imposed Martial Law, and are removing all human rights, creating Political Crime and Thought Crime as offenses…..China is overflying Taiwan, and firing hypersonic missiles – as well as the Wuhan lab was the source of all this –

Last edited 2 years ago by Galeti Tavas
Dan Gleeballs
Dan Gleeballs
2 years ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

I won’t argue whether Islamic terrorism is more or less serious than defaulting on a national debt, but my point remains: we have a tendency to panic, as a species. It’s probably an evolved response. Try to resist. This too will pass.

mike otter
mike otter
2 years ago
Reply to  Dan Gleeballs

Panic won’t help but fear is the correct response to the Covid supporters. BJ and his goons see it as a way to get power and money. Lefties see a means to destroy the economy which they think will bring their utopia. Central Bankers prefer a smokescreen of Covid rather than Occupy or Black Bloc demonstrators in the streets. However something will have to be done because like 1939 there will come a time when the Covid kabal over-reach and the grown ups finally act. Bit like the sobering effect on a pub brawl when someone is knocked out or worse. Hopefully it will come sooner than later but history suggests a lot of damage will be done before the push back starts. The one positive point is that these viruses, even advanced lab made ones, follow the same pattern of evolution. They either weaken and thrive or remain lethal and become rare or even extinct. This process carries on over millions of years which is why paleo virusese are in incorporated in our DNA. Because these facts are known to the large number of people with undergraduate life science education including much of the medical profession the truth will pretty much always be out there waiting to come into view.

robert stowells
robert stowells
2 years ago
Reply to  mike otter

Boris is a narrow issue

Allison Barrows
Allison Barrows
2 years ago
Reply to  Dan Gleeballs

The 20th Century was filled with concentration camps, gulags, and mass graves because people didn’t panic enough.

Chris Eaton
Chris Eaton
2 years ago

Ummm…no. Not even close. You’ve never heard of the Weimar Republic, I suppose. Can’t think of many things that would panic people more than having to bring a wheelbarrow full of ‘money’ to buy a loaf of bread.

Warren T
Warren T
2 years ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

You meant $30T national debt.

Su Mac
Su Mac
2 years ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

Yep, they are nearly ready to let the mother of all debt bubbles pop, pin it all on Covid, issue the digital UBI in police states and most people have zero idea it is coming. Fortunately the U.S.A is too big, varied and Constitutional freedom loving to ever be fully China-fied so they will be a beacon to the world – but short to medium term it will be pretty hellish! Keep your head down, keep stacking…

robert stowells
robert stowells
2 years ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

I agree with this there is an agenda for sure!

Martin Bollis
Martin Bollis
2 years ago
Reply to  Dan Gleeballs

Your advice is sound. I will abandon my memetic tribe and go in search of Tuesday woman.

Martin Bollis
Martin Bollis
2 years ago
Reply to  Martin Bollis

Update – three items of exceptional good news: I’ve found her, I’m married to her, it’s Tuesday

Joe Donovan
Joe Donovan
2 years ago
Reply to  Martin Bollis

Love it!

Michael Richardson
Michael Richardson
2 years ago
Reply to  Dan Gleeballs

I’m mid 60s, so I am plenty old enough to remember 1968/69. Apollo 8 orbited the Moon in December 1968, Apollo 11 landed on the Moon in July 1969. What I don’t remember at all was the Hong Kong Flu, which killed a similar number of people (per head of population) to Covid19. And that is not because people were callous or did not value life, it is because they got on with it and looked after friends and relatives.

Claire D
Claire D
2 years ago

It’s a bit more complicated than that:
In 1968 there were 2,528 hospitals with 468,000 staffed beds.
In 2020/21 there are 1,229 hospitals with 141,000 staffed beds.
Shocking difference I think.
I support/ed the lockdown to protect the NHS and you can see why it needed protection.

Last edited 2 years ago by Claire D
Hardee Hodges
Hardee Hodges
2 years ago
Reply to  Claire D

Except the economic damage amount could have funded an expansion of those reduced facilities. A choice governments have made. Rather than meet the challenge of inadequate health facilities, they imagined certain mitigation measures would work. That ignored work done over many years showing those measures of limited utility.

Claire D
Claire D
2 years ago
Reply to  Hardee Hodges

“The economic damage amount could have funded an expansion”, but would it have ? Hypothetical.
The “mitigation measures”? do you mean the lockdown? if so it did work – the NHS did’nt collapse.

Graham Stull
Graham Stull
2 years ago
Reply to  Claire D

Health services didn’t collapse anywhere in the world. Not in Sweden. Not in South Dakota. Not in Florida.

Claire D
Claire D
2 years ago
Reply to  Graham Stull

I am talking about Britain which has a particular set of NHS related problems (see my first response above and figures), each country is unique. I don’t know anything about South Dakota or Florida but I do know that Sweden’s Health Service is in much better condition than Britain’s, and so they could afford to be more relaxed.

Elaine Giedrys-Leeper
Elaine Giedrys-Leeper
2 years ago
Reply to  Claire D

In fact Sweden have about the same number of ICU beds / 100,000 as Ireland which is why they operated a draconian admissions policy during their first wave in 2020 – most of the deaths in Sweden were initially in care homes because these people were refused admission to ICU’s (for good reasons I might add – the same applied in the UK).
The Swedish experience is much more likely to do with social dynamics specifically :

  • 40%of households are single person households
  • Smallest average household size in the OECD (1.99)
  • Largest age group 25 – 34 years (in 2019)
  • More than 55% of 16 to 24 year-olds don’t socialise with any close relatives.
  • Workplaces are typically small in Sweden with approxiamtely 95% of workplaces accomodating 1 – 9 employees
Last edited 2 years ago by Elaine Giedrys-Leeper
Lillian Fry
Lillian Fry
2 years ago

And only a 20% obesity rate – half that of the US

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
2 years ago
Reply to  Claire D

I remember very clearly reading that the temporary hospitals were not even used.

Claire D
Claire D
2 years ago
John Urwin
John Urwin
2 years ago
Reply to  Claire D

Cast your minds back to March 2020. People were dying in hospitals and care homes. They might only have been about 1%, but they still would have overwhelmed the hospitals, especially in Italy. That is what the government were worried about – one person denied a bed would have been a gift to the opposition. The first lockdown worked after a fashion, so of course governments stuck with them. Vaccines work – compare the numbers dying then with those dying now. Those dying now are mainly the unvaccinated.
What is the fuss about? Is it a big deal to have a vaccine or put on a face mask in certain situations? I agree that people should not be demonised for not being vaccinated but they need to realise that they may take up a bed that could go to a cancer patient.

Jonathan Andrews
Jonathan Andrews
2 years ago
Reply to  John Urwin

So would you say the same of a skier? Or a driver who hit some pedestrians?

People make choices, sometimes the consequences are tragic

Jonathan Andrews
Jonathan Andrews
2 years ago

I know that during the early stages this was a different calculus but you frame our current situation in moral terms

Elaine Giedrys-Leeper
Elaine Giedrys-Leeper
2 years ago
Reply to  Graham Stull

Define “collapse”.
I would define it in an ICU setting as a situation where you have to bus a patient to an adjacent hospital because you have run out of adequately staffed beds and / or you have to triage for end of life care for the same reason.
Now show me the sats for individual hospitals in S Dakota and Florida where this happened.

Norm Haug
Norm Haug
2 years ago
Reply to  Graham Stull

I disagree. Early in the pandemic there were videos of emergency ICUs in hospital parking lots, in gymnasiums and long lines of ambulances waiting outside hospitals which had no spots left to take the new victims. That sounds like a collapse to me. Don’t forget, this is not over yet. Any time now, a new mutation could take us back to those early days of the pandemic.

Matt Coffey
Matt Coffey
2 years ago
Reply to  Norm Haug

Even if those reports (some of which I remember seeing) were genuine I don’t see how that constitutes a “collapse”. At worst a temporary failure in capacity which resulted in an undocumented number of victims being left in a distressing situation that none of us would want for ourselves or anyone else.
All of those health systems have since recovered which suggests use of words like “collapse” is useful for hyperbole but not for rational dialog.

Graham Stull
Graham Stull
2 years ago
Reply to  Matt Coffey

That’s a good point Matt. Moreover, I would not want to have a healthcare system that has sufficient baseline redundancy that it is able to cope with such a sudden spike without overcrowding. That would simply be too much of a waste of resources the rest of the time.
Don’t forget, wasting resources is not costless. It sucks up tax money, deadens the economy and causes poverty and deprivation elsewhere in the system. Those, in turn, kill far more certainly than even COVID.

Elaine Giedrys-Leeper
Elaine Giedrys-Leeper
2 years ago
Reply to  Claire D

Yes. Practicalities.
“I am watching all this from Ireland … Here, cases are accelerating so fast that we were all told recently to work from home … ”
Well I imagine the Irish health authorities are a bit worried since as of 10th November they had 288 staffed and operational ICU beds. 279 were occupied (97%) which is generally deemed to be an unsafe number – little or no surge capacity. 119 of the 279 were occupied by Covid patients, likely to stay in these beds longer than other patients and their case numbers were still rising with a 10 – 14 day lag between a case being diagnosed and admission to an ICU bed.
Ireland has 5 ICU beds / 100,000 population compared with 7 / 100,000 in the UK and 28 / 100,000 in Germany.
I hope they have generally agreed critical care guidelines in Ireland for end of life care if and when they have to triage for these beds.
These are the messy realities of dealing with a nasty disease using a pared down health care system which can not be fixed overnight.

Laura Creighton
Laura Creighton
2 years ago

Actually, though Sweden started with the same poor ICU capacity as Ireland, we quickly ramped up to 10+ per 100,000 (within 3 weeks).
https://www.thelocal.se/20200623/how-sweden-doubled-intensive-care-capacity-to-treat-coronavirus-patients/
So we didn’t run out of ICU beds. The reason that the people in the nursing hospital homes didn’t get sent to the ICUs in the early days wasn’t that we had run out of space, but because the only thing we knew to do for the patients in the ICUs was to ventilate them. This is a very harsh procedure — so we already had a policy of never ventilating people from the nursing homes, because all it did was kill them.
So instead we gave them oxygen (which nearly all of the care homes had) and painkillers. Giving oxygen instead of ventilating patients has turned out to be the better treatment option for pretty much everybody, but in the early days, who knew?

Last edited 2 years ago by Laura Creighton
Elaine Giedrys-Leeper
Elaine Giedrys-Leeper
2 years ago

Yes, for some the right sort of oxygen delivery (there are 7 different flavours from nasal cannula to non invasive PAP depending on respiratory rate, blood gases, oxygen saturation and physical signs) works very well – that is for those who don’t have overwhelming lung involvement or any other problems with other organs. ICUs aren’t just for ventilating patients.
The morbidity and mortality associated with the ventilated elderly has been known for a long time.
Where did they get the trained staff from for the extra critical care beds ? or did they do the same as in the UK and simply up the nurse to patient ratio from 1:1 to 1:3 or 5 or 6 ?
From a pal of mine in Sweden in April last year :
“Yes. Actually I’m in Sweden witnessing and living an humanitarian catastrophe. Hospitals are closed, they do not let people looking for help in. One needs to be previously allowed after a very hard screening by telephone. Only a tiny part of the covid19 symptomatic patients are allowed to go to the hospital to get treated. Sweden has officially 2653 deaths so far. There are doctors made calculation in internet based on official numbers of hospital utilization that conclude that only around 400 people died at the hospitals. More then 2200, more then 80% dies at home because they couldn’t get treatment. It’s too much scary because I don’t know whether my family will have treated if needed despite we are covered by the public health system, in theory. Information is slowly going out of the swedish state sponsored media bubble, but it’s taking too long.”

Laura Creighton
Laura Creighton
2 years ago

I am not sure where they got all of the trained staff, which was, indeed the problem but some came from the military, and some were people from their last months of training, some came out of retirement or managerial positions and some came from other regions of Sweden, as you would expect in a crisis.
We’ve had two rounds of independent commission reports on what went wrong in the crisis, and the report on how the elderly were failed was particularly damning, but ‘people dying at home because they couldn’t get treatment that would have saved them because the hospitals were full’ didn’t feature.
Locking up the hospitals, and turning away people who tried to forgo the telephone interviews was actually one of the successful parts of the operation that got praise. Without doing this, we think that the whole hospital population would have ended up being infected.
And the local media wasn’t hiding the fact that if you showed up at the hospital with respiratory symptoms you would be turned away, they were trying to get the message out as widely as possible so that people would stop showing up, filling the ambulances when they were only mildly ill and making them unavailable for all the non-covid emergency cases, which also was a problem.

Elaine Giedrys-Leeper
Elaine Giedrys-Leeper
2 years ago

Many thanks for all those insights – much more illuminating than most other commentaries I have read over the last 18 months.

Laura Creighton
Laura Creighton
2 years ago

The other thing to remember is that, unlike some other places, Sweden has a great many people who are close-to-dying who are living at home. The very sickest are in the Nursing homes, if they can be convinced to go there. Many refuse. The next tier — plus those who refuse the Nursing homes — are people who get Home Care coming into their own homes 2 or 3 times a week to help them with showering, or cleaning, or laundry, or shopping — whatever they need. The home care people are not nurses. Now, some of the people getting home care, are recovering from serious car accidents, or are permanently disabled, but mostly they are just old, because this is where all people in Sweden end up, unless something else kills them before they can die of old age.
But, and here the reports are particularly damning, Home Care ran out of both testing equipment and protective masks. Worse, the people working didn’t use their masks properly, sometimes because they weren’t properly trained, but often because they didn’t understand why it was necessary, if they had no symptoms, and when the people they were caring for were insisting that they take it off.
This was a catastrophe of gargantuan proportions. But when these elderly cared for people started getting sick, a lot of them moved to their personal plan for serious illness — don’t go to the hospital, gather the family around, and get ready to die. When it became known that if you went to the hospital you would be separated from your relatives, even more who in other days would have gone to the hospital, decided against it.
So while it is a tragedy, and to my mind criminal negligence — but good luck sticking government ministers from the Social Democrats and the Moderate Party, because both the left and the right for 20 years thought that saving money by not having stockpiles of equipment was such a smart thing to do — that these people got sick in the first place, that they died at home, not so much. (Except for the parts of the regions which ran out of oxygen which they tried to get to the people sick at home, and the people who had a place waiting for them in the hospital but had a too long delay in getting an ambulance, and who decided to wait for it and not call a taxi, and the people who were too deaf to use the phone or understand what they were told …. all these terrible individual tragedies.)

Last edited 2 years ago by Laura Creighton
robert stowells
robert stowells
2 years ago

Agree that it is a frank discussion about what the state can afford. It sounds like there is a better balance and sanity of approach in Sweden. Now that COVID has bankrupted countries there is less availability of support from the state and less choice which may actually suit politicians.

Last edited 2 years ago by robert stowells
Graham Stull
Graham Stull
2 years ago

As someone who has been involved in structural healthcare reform in Ireland for years, I can tell you that hospital overcrowding in winter is nothing new to the HSE, Ireland’s health executive.
And if you think that draconian restrictions on civil liberties can be justified by the need to protect this failed service from capacity issues, you have little understanding of second-order effects or even cause-and-effect.

Sally Owen
Sally Owen
2 years ago
Reply to  Claire D

Yes the closing of all our hospitals was the beginning of the end for the NHS, and who’s fault and for what reason was that!..

Alison Tyler
Alison Tyler
2 years ago
Reply to  Claire D

Sensible and moral behaviour is clearly too expensive for our times. The NHS has of course become our current idol, as it alsmost impossible to say a bad word about it other than the fact that it is grossly inefficient and wasteful..

Last edited 2 years ago by Alison Tyler
Claire D
Claire D
2 years ago
Reply to  Alison Tyler

I agree with you entirely. It seems odd to be protecting something that is not fit for purpose, but I think the suffering brought about by NHS collapse would probably be worse. Perhaps it would be better long term if it did collapse and then something better could be built from the ruins, I don’t know, but it would be immoral to ‘allow’ it.
Having said that, the NHS does seem to have collapsed to some extent in some areas; nearly 6 million people on waiting lists, ambulances queueing outside hospitals for hours, at least one poor woman with a broken leg waiting for paramedics for 12 hours etc.

Last edited 2 years ago by Claire D
Kathleen Stern
Kathleen Stern
2 years ago
Reply to  Claire D

Mass immigration thanks to Blair etc. Gordon Brown and his building of smaller hospitals with money off the official books. These policies by all in power have led us to this. They are still importing illegals and giving them benefits most ordinary people can’t get. The complacency of the political class and establishment unaffected by these decisions is immoral and if nothing changes violence is looming closer from those who are being disadvantaged and stamped on like Orwells’ Boot.

James Joyce
James Joyce
2 years ago

Swine Flu and the vaccine. Mid 70s. The boffins panicked, pushed a “vaccine” that “everyone” needed to take. President Ford, I think, on TV getting the jab, all the usual nonsense.
Oops! Turned out that the vaccine had serious side effects and that the Swine Flu pandemic that the boffins all predicted was a bust.
Decades later, I met a guy who had had the vaccine. He was stumbling around on crutches because of GBS, Guillain-Barre Syndrome, a pretty bad disease. Before getting the vaccine he had been healthy and robust. Not after. He did what the boffins and the government told him he must do.
Oops!

Ian Manning
Ian Manning
2 years ago

Absolutely, Michael. A rough calculation based on the current average Covid death rate (c.130 per day) multiplied by 180 days would give a total of 24,480. The death rate from flu/pneumonia in the winter of 2018 was nearly 30,000. Did we hear a word about it? Of course not. With this latest wild panic, the only facts we have are that of those with Omicron in South Africa all showed only very mild symptoms with no hospitalisations and certainly no deaths. All the concerns trumpeted are simply speculation. On the basis of which, we have people screaming for masks and lockdowns and crucifying the economies of countries and industries across the world. No wonder Cyril Ramaposa is so upset about the way his country has been vilified. Paul’s essay is highly pertinent and clear warning not to allow this artificial wave of fear to allow our freedoms to be eroded even further.

Mark Burbidge
Mark Burbidge
2 years ago
Reply to  Dan Gleeballs

Sorry you missed the sixties. I would tell you about them but as they say–‘ if you can remember them you weren’t there ‘

Bruno Lucy
Bruno Lucy
2 years ago
Reply to  Dan Gleeballs

Indeed
..when I think of my grand parents
.my grand father 4 years prisoner of war during WW1
.mind you
.he came out of it alive. Married my widowed grand mother whose husband died at Verdun. Loses 2 of his brothers during the same war, 2 sisters from tuberculosis.
next generation sees my mother and aunts sent to concentration camps for distributing anti German pamphlets

..heaps of reasons to panic. My grand dad always kept a very dignified composure until he died at 91.
So, to see the panic taking place with a vaccine that is supposed to save your life is crazy. I read this somewhere

if or when a MRNA vaccine was supposed to cure all forms of cancers, regardless of your debilitating life style, people would climb on top of one another to get the jab.
If life has become total dung right now, it is because all the scare mongers in the media and in the scientific community.
I wonder how those who lived through the Black Plague then would react seeing the world running like a headless chicken each time a new variant is detected

.especially when there is a vaccine to protect us.

robert stowells
robert stowells
2 years ago
Reply to  Bruno Lucy

Good comment on the Black Plague!

Last edited 2 years ago by robert stowells
Warren T
Warren T
2 years ago
Reply to  Dan Gleeballs

You forgot the apoplectic rage over Trump being elected. He was going to usher in WWIII, tank the economy and bring back public lynching of black people. He also was elected by the Russians and needed to be impeached the moment he was sworn in. Perhaps we needed to fund research into a vaccine to fight TDS.

Dustshoe Richinrut
Dustshoe Richinrut
2 years ago
Reply to  Warren T

“Perhaps we needed to fund research into a vaccine to fight TDS.”

V funny!

Jonathan Andrews
Jonathan Andrews
2 years ago
Reply to  Dan Gleeballs

This particular panic has been somewhat intense

Karl Juhnke
Karl Juhnke
2 years ago
Reply to  Dan Gleeballs

I think this is far removed from all those things you mentioned, with islamic terrorism being the closest thing from your list to covid. The thing terrorism and covid have in common is they both give licence for the loss of our freedoms in the name of keeping us safe. Calling that out if you see it is a duty. If you can’t then I guess you just leave that duty to those who can. This appears to be what you are doing.

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
2 years ago
Reply to  Jane Watson

“Some people are still managing to stay sane.”

I am not totally sure the writer has fully managed that as I ended up skimming through the main body of it as in the entirety it was a bit OTT, but at least he is skeptical of this insane Government response, which has been so fantastically disastrous and tyrannical in every way that I take it as proof the WEF, Davos, Pharma/Medical Industrial Complex, Banksters, MSM and Social Media/Tech Industrial Complex – and their Neo-Marxist, Post-Modernist lackeys really are out to turn the world into a new kind of feudalism with them the rulers and us as the Serfs…

Brian Pottinger
Brian Pottinger
2 years ago
Reply to  Jane Watson

Brilliant article. I found, appropriately, these words from South African Jan Smuts on the occasion of his inauguration as Rector of St Andrews University in 1934:
“Science, the proudest product of the human reason, the greatest instrument of human progress, the voice of God to our day and generation, has at the same time become the dangerous weapon for our self-destruction.”
And:
“The disappearance of the sturdy, independent-minded freedom-loving individual and his replacement by a servile mass mentality is the greatest menace of our time. Here we reach what I firmly believe is the heart of the problem, the issue around which the greatest battles of this and the coming generation will be fought – if the cause of our civilization is to be saved.”
“The new dictatorship is nothing but the old tyranny write large.”

Adrian Doble
Adrian Doble
2 years ago
Reply to  Jane Watson

I absolutely do not despair. How dare you tell me that.

J Bryant
J Bryant
2 years ago

What an incredibly powerful essay. Thank you, Paul Kingsnorth.
Societies are being transformed, with no public discussion and no consent, into a version of a Silicon Valley nerd’s wet dreams.
The instant I read that comment an image of Bill Gates pontificating yet again on CNN popped into my mind.
Underneath the arguments about whether or not to take a vaccine glides something older, deeper, slower: something with all the time in the world. Some great spirit whose work is to use these fractured times to reveal to us all what we need to see: things hidden since the foundation of the modern world.
This is the language and imagery of mythology, and I know the author is a proponent of the value of myth. I guess the great spirit at work beneath the surface is human nature rearing its ugly head yet again. We might be modern, or even post-modern, but human nature hasn’t changed since the ancients first wrote about the Furies and Harpies as representing the dark side of our nature.
I wish Unherd would commission articles, from authors with a range of viewpoints, about feasible ways out of our current mess. In the current edition of Unherd there’s an article about what America can expect in the next few years as it works its way through the culture wars. The answer appears to be yet more turmoil as people grope blindly for solutions. Maybe that’s the sobering reality. The way out is through the fire.

Last edited 2 years ago by J Bryant
Norman Powers
Norman Powers
2 years ago
Reply to  J Bryant

Hey, not all us Silicon Valley nerds are like this. It’s being forgotten now but social media tech firms used to be quite libertarian places. Not for nothing was Google’s original mission statement “to make the world’s information universally accessible“. And it was Twitter that in 2010 stated that it was the “free speech wing of the free speech party”.
What’s really going on here isn’t actually about some class of “nerds” vs “normal people”. The problem SV has is two fold. One: it’s imported staggering numbers of new grads, PhD students, etc and people who have spent too much time in academia come out being extremely hard left. They’ve never been exposed to any environment which wasn’t typified by highly systematized ranking of people, in which everyone’s “score” is supposedly a function of their intellect and effort but in reality is decided by small cliques of those around them.
So they end up being extremely sensitive to groupthink and tribal popularity, where they rank on the intellectual/moral spectrum, they have zero concept that highly educated people can be wrong about anything, they are fanatically loyal to the professorial/academic class that (they perceive) granted them the social status and income they now enjoy, and they’ve never really encountered a serious budgetary constraint of any kind. In fact even when I was at Google years ago, most staff couldn’t even access budgets expressed in dollar terms.
Two: social media firms are increasingly reliant on big brand advertisers for growth (vs the small highly targeted advertisers that dominated their earlier years), and the marketing departments of big firms are in turn dominated by liberal women with various kinds of humanities/marketing degrees. They are also extremely sensitive to what people think and thus these advertisers have a reputation for having allergic reactions to anything that might not be seen as “caring”, or anything any journalist every described as “toxic”, and they insist when they spend with tech firms that their ads don’t appear next to such content. And thus the profit motive incentivizes these firms to purge anything offensive to the sort of people who cut the cheques.
This is not normal even for the tech industry, which is a lot bigger than SV and SV is in turn a lot bigger than social media companies. But it badly affects a handful of them and it has badly affected the culture of San Francisco, always a rather left-wing place to begin with.

Warren T
Warren T
2 years ago
Reply to  Norman Powers

Thank you for the insight into tech firms. What you describe is scary enough, but helps explain why certain things are happening.

J Bryant
J Bryant
2 years ago
Reply to  Norman Powers

Great comment.
It’s being forgotten now but social media tech firms used to be quite libertarian places.
Yes, I think that’s now a distant memory. The idea of libertarian tech firms almost seems quaint.

Leslie Cook
Leslie Cook
2 years ago
Reply to  Norman Powers

Good insight and not offensive to a woman who sees the Karens for what they are but going gender specific might not be the best way to frame your point.

Alex Stonor
Alex Stonor
2 years ago
Reply to  Norman Powers

Also power corrupts

Michael Richardson
Michael Richardson
2 years ago

My latest Covid thought is ‘Let her rip:’”, he wrote. “Meaning, we who are lucky enough to be triple & double vaxed are pretty protected. Let the rest die. I know they pose a danger to us all. But we are more than 97% protected from them. If they want to die, I say let them die. Freedom.

And the irony there is, all us unvaxed would like nothing more than for the vaxed to go away, and let her rip. Because, something like 98.8% of us will survive just fine.

Last edited 2 years ago by Michael Richardson
Paul Smithson
Paul Smithson
2 years ago

Here, here, although it is more like 99.832% according to the Pandemics Data and An lytics (PANDA)

Last edited 2 years ago by Paul Smithson
Michael Richardson
Michael Richardson
2 years ago
Reply to  Paul Smithson

Yes, a typo on my part. You are correct

Norman Powers
Norman Powers
2 years ago

It says a lot about how badly informed these people are that they literally seem to think the unvaccinated will die of COVID.
I saw some idiot on Twitter the other day whose user name was DataDrivenMD – literally, a medical doctor claiming to be unusually data driven. He said he was terrified every time he had to take his two year old into shops in case she got COVID and died. Apparently nobody had ever told this “data driven” expert the IFRs for children.
The German health minister’s “vaccinated, cured or dead” statement is also complete lunacy of this type. He is saying COVID is a terminal disease.
Opinion polls have shown that the average person thinks the COVID IFR is around 16%. There has been a catastrophically successful misinformation campaign mounted by governments and media that has resulted in large fractions of the population being entirely unaware of how mild COVID really is. And I guess they don’t get out much, or their faith in “experts” is so strong it overrides what they see with their own eyes, because apparently they didn’t notice that this isn’t real.
Either that or they’re just malicious liars. Could be that too.

Matt Coffey
Matt Coffey
2 years ago
Reply to  Norman Powers

Apparently nobody had ever told this “data driven” expert the IFRs for children.

Apparently nobody had told him how the human immune system works which is pretty scary if he really is an MD.

Bret Larson
Bret Larson
2 years ago

They cant do it though because public health systems would be taxed to exhaustion.
One of the weakness of public health is that people can make the decision to risk 100’s k in emergency healthcare instead of a $50 vaccination.

Elena Lange
Elena Lange
2 years ago

Without UnHerd‘s op-eds on the Covid Regime, my resilience to this insanity would look much different. Thank you for the mind booster!

Orlando Skeete
Orlando Skeete
2 years ago
Reply to  Elena Lange

I agree 100%. I usually save this website to read at the end of the day. Something about the clear, rational and comprehensive style of writing puts my mind at ease. There are still sensible people out there

David Slade
David Slade
2 years ago

Thank you for an insightful essay, and one which I think resonates with a lot of people. Its aIso nice to have common sense published on the day England takes a step towards insanity again (face coverings are back, after all).

I try and avoid conspiracy theorists and hyperbole on either side of any argument, I just don’t have the temperament for the confrontation that comes with occupying an extreme position.

Yet as it has become clear that Covid 19 is not an existential threat to humanity and the ethical justification for measures to suppress it has become more and more dubious (regardless of what threat it posed), I have found myself at a loss to explain why those who should be responsible custodians have instead fallen in behind one extreme narrative. Having done so, they have censored, threatened and coerced everyone in to compliance around that narrative; a narrative so full of holes it may as well be a cloth mask trying to stop a virus.

It leaves people like me – always doubting but previously willing to put this down to a catastrophic miscalculation (like ww1) – having no choice but to contemplate something less benign as an explanation.

Maybe this is all to normalise a level of state interference in people’s lives for some as yet unspecified purpose. Whatever it is, I am perplexed by the onset of hysteria about this virus and it’s promotion by those who should be learned arbiters.

Laura Creighton
Laura Creighton
2 years ago
Reply to  David Slade

I am not sure that the level of state interference is ‘for some unspecified purpose’. Some people, at any rate, think that a controlling State (for the Nationalists) or a controlling Supranationalist Organisation (for the Internationalists) is a good thing to have at all times — so having one _is_ the purpose.

And some people like asserting control, and cruelty, and subjugating others in the same way that others like beauty, and joy. It’s not something that needs a ‘reason for’. It’s done for its own sake. Glad to see, David, that sadists acting sadistically hasn’t been a major feature of your life, but I promise you these people exist (though fortunately not in large numbers). I hope we are not creating more of them.

Last edited 2 years ago by Laura Creighton
David Slade
David Slade
2 years ago

I am well aware of sadists, but thankfully not so much from personal experience, anyone surviving encounters with such people has my admiration and respect.

However, the influence of sadists should usually be mitigated by the majority in any groups – you would be talking about some kind of institutionalised sadism for this not to be the case.

But you’re right, some people don’t need a reason, the worst crimes in history are probably instigated by the sadistic minority and a critical mass is just carried along because it suites some other collective agenda or vision of the world they honestly think is for a greater good.

The critical mass of useful idiots is probably scarier than the sadistic minority.

Matt Coffey
Matt Coffey
2 years ago

A very interesting article but the author misses a crucial point. An unknown, but significant number of the “virtuous vaxxed” do not believe they need the jab but have complied to retain freedoms. Compliance implicitly provides all the permission a tyrannical regime needs.
Perhaps having transitioned from “Thesis” to “Antithesis” the author has a more sympathetic view of such people but as someone who has struggled to understand their cowardice from day one I see them as the biggest part of this problem. Even if this all went away tomorrow I don’t think I will ever look at any of my lifelong friends in the same light again.

Last edited 2 years ago by Matt Coffey
Dan Croitoru
Dan Croitoru
2 years ago
Reply to  Matt Coffey

So what? if they complied, out of fear or not, compensation for compliance must be received via terrorizing the non compliant

Matt Coffey
Matt Coffey
2 years ago
Reply to  Dan Croitoru

None of my (former) friends has terrorized me, they know not of the evil they do. The point has been made many times already, this significant group of society is behaving the same as 1930’s Germans who said they did what they did because the Nazis made them.

Jonathan Weil
Jonathan Weil
2 years ago
Reply to  Matt Coffey

Hang about. Even if you think the vaccine is unnecessary and/or dangerous, how is an individual’s decision to take it tantamount to anything “they did” under Nazis?

Matt Coffey
Matt Coffey
2 years ago
Reply to  Jonathan Weil

You’re really not following this thread are you Jonathan. I could repeat all the points I’ve made verbatim or perhaps you could just bother to take off your blinkers and read my comments properly.

Last edited 2 years ago by Matt Coffey
Fred Bloggs
Fred Bloggs
2 years ago
Reply to  Matt Coffey

How many took the vaccine while thinking it was pointless?Not many, I would wager. Maybe most people simply thought that the vaccine would be of benefit to them? They could still be “synthesists”.

Last edited 2 years ago by Fred Bloggs
Matt Coffey
Matt Coffey
2 years ago
Reply to  Fred Bloggs

I strongly disagree but you won’t get an honest answer from many of them because they need to believe they’re not cowards and they need to believe they’re doing a good thing and not an evil thing.

Stephen Magee
Stephen Magee
2 years ago
Reply to  Matt Coffey

I’m vaxxed, and I’m embarrassed about it. I finally caved in when my daughter rang me begging me to do it because “I won’t be allowed to see you and Mum”. I told her that this was nothing less than governmental blackmail, and she broke down in tears.

Last edited 2 years ago by Stephen Magee
Matt Coffey
Matt Coffey
2 years ago
Reply to  Stephen Magee

Sorry to hear that Stephen and at least one of my friends says he only got it because his mum was so scared and he has to see them regularly.

Geraldine Kelley
Geraldine Kelley
2 years ago
Reply to  Stephen Magee

Why are young people so woefully unable to think rationally? Is it because nothing is taught in the English curriculum except how to respond emotionally?

Roger Tilbury
Roger Tilbury
2 years ago
Reply to  Matt Coffey

I took my first two jabs willingly because although I understand the risks in this novel vaccine, I estimate there were higher risks to my health from catching Covid as a 74yo with a couple of mild co-morbidities.
The booster was a different story though. Even though it’s clear a lot of the protection against infection and illness (but less so serious illness/death) has waned I would personally prefer to catch Covid for the better long-term protection several studies seem to suggest I would get. Nevertheless I chose to get the booster so I could continuew with my holiday plans (now likely to be dished anyway).
I do not think we should force people to be jabbed, even in the health or care sectors and I do not agree with vaccine passports either. There is simply not enough recognition that there is natural immunity already in the populace from other coronaviruses and previous Covid infections but it’s not so easy to measure (or profitable) so is ignored.

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
2 years ago
Reply to  Fred Bloggs

Weighing up benefits vs risks and considering my travelling years left, I took the vaccine because of the vaccine passport. I remain vaccine hesitant. The way the world is going the vaccine passport has proved worthless so far.

Art C
Art C
2 years ago
Reply to  Fred Bloggs

Many of my friends and family only took the vaccine because it was the “done thing”. We were led to understand that the rollout was a way out of the (then current)lockdown. And of course being vaccinated enabled one to function effortlessly after the first restrictions were not lifted. The majority of these people now agree that the vaccination has little medical value: how can you conclude otherwise when you are living in a country with one of the highest vaccination rates in the world and infections keep breaking records, including – and often especially – amongst the vaccinated! All of them are unhappy that they are being drummed into taking a “3rd shot”, with a 4th, 5th etc. etc. on the horizon. For now, they remain silent. And are positive statistics. As for myself, after having an appointment for a vaccination cancelled at the beginning of the year – made in a moment of weakness and to keep a loved one happy – I have now made a conscious decision to not follow through. The reason is my utter disgust at the incessant, often vicious, sneering at and smearing of “the unvaccinated” in the media and wider society and the brazen censoring of any dissenting voice. It’s outright demonization now. What Austria and Australia are doing will come to us all. My contempt for the people driving this campaign cannot be overstated. To get vaccinated now would be complicity compliant. I shan’t do it.

Ian Manning
Ian Manning
2 years ago
Reply to  Art C

The crucial point you have missed, Arther, is that although in the UK we still have high levels of infections, some of which will be in the vaxxed population, it is the UNvaxxed who make up most of the hospitalisations and deaths from Covid. I didn’t get vaxxed because ‘it was the thing to do’ but because it was an entirely rational decision of personal protection. And on what rational basis can you claim that many vaxxed people have concluded the jabs were ‘of little medical value’? Look, by all means stay unvaxxed if you want but just accept the extra risk graciously without insulting those of us who see it as a balanced reduction in risk from a still pretty rare disease. And as for those who claim a coordinated conspiracy of social control across the world, give me strength!

Matt Coffey
Matt Coffey
2 years ago
Reply to  Ian Manning

The crucial point you have missed Ian is that unvaccinated people like myself couldn’t care less what anyone else’s vaccination status is. This entire issue is down to vaccinated people demanding that everyone else be vaccinated or outcast.
You ask not to be insulted and in your very next breath insult people like me by inferring my association with conspiracy theories. A little more humility all round would help and, in fairness, I think is what the author was driving at.

Ian Manning
Ian Manning
2 years ago
Reply to  Matt Coffey

To clarify, I am not in any way demanding people be vaccinated. I am a liberal by instinct and think that the way the Austrians, etc are harassing the unvaccinated is unconscionable. However, I also believe that the consequences of not being vaccinated should be accepted by those involved and society as a whole. Wholesale restrictions on my liberty in an effort to protect the minority of people refusing vaccination is unacceptable. To be clear, I did not imply that all those refusing vaccination were conspiracy theorists. That is why my last sentence implicitly separated these people as a sub-set. Sorry if you were unable to draw this inference. And concerning the minority of anti-vaxxer conspiracy believers, my opinion that they are deeply irrational is perfectly valid. Indeed, my criticism of Arther’s completely unfounded statement that ‘The majority of these people (vaccinated people) now agree that the vaccination has little medical value‘ is a manifestly ignorant and wholly wrong statement until accompanied by clear and incontrovertible evidence in support. I think it is clear from the public record that this sort of unsubstantiated ‘factual’ claim is all too frequently made by those arguing against vaccination. I will not insult you by suggesting that you are one of these people!

Last edited 2 years ago by Ian Manning
Matt Coffey
Matt Coffey
2 years ago
Reply to  Ian Manning

Just to mop up on the double-standards:
I didn’t say (or infer) that ALL vaccinated people are demanding that everyone else be vaccinated just as you didn’t say that ALL unvaccinated people are conspiracy theorists.
You say that one of Arther’s comments is a…

…manifestly ignorant and wholly wrong statement until accompanied by clear and incontrovertible evidence in support.

And yet some might consider your previous comments in the same light.

I also believe that the consequences of not being vaccinated should be accepted by those involved and society as a whole. Wholesale restrictions on my liberty in an effort to protect the minority of people refusing vaccination is unacceptable.

I see no “incontrovertible evidence” that the vaccinated are doing anything whatsoever to protect me just as there is no “incontrovertible evidence” that the unvaccinated are doing anything whatsoever to harm anyone else. (By the way, I don’t accept correlation or data modelling in any form as an incontrovertible fact.) In fact, anyone trying to coerce me into having a vaccine is potentially attempting to do me great harm as evidenced by the official Yellow Card vaccine damage reporting scheme (over 1.7k deaths and counting). And, for the record, I consider anyone who implies that I’m responsible for “wholesale restrictions” on their liberty because I refuse to be vaccinated as attempting to coerce me and so in that case I am implying you.

Elaine Giedrys-Leeper
Elaine Giedrys-Leeper
2 years ago
Reply to  Matt Coffey

Evidence for the vaccinated protecting the unvaccinated. Well you could take a look at :
The impact of SARS-CoV-2 vaccination on Alpha & Delta variant transmission  Eyre October 2021
https://www.medrxiv.org/content/10.1101/2021.09.28.21264260v2#disqus_thread
or
Community transmission and viral load kinetics of the SARS-CoV-2 delta (B.1.617.2) variant in vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals in the UK: a prospective, longitudinal, cohort study  Anika Singanayagam  October 2021
https://www.thelancet.com/journals/laninf/article/PIIS1473-3099(21)00648-4/fulltext
or
Virological characteristics of SARS-CoV-2 vaccine breakthrough infections in health care workers  Marc C. Shamier, August 2021
https://www.medrxiv.org/content/10.1101/2021.08.20.21262158v1#disqus_thread

I could go on but it gets boring.
As for the yellow card – anyone can fill in anything and claim it is vaccine related (see the “dental” section for some really bizarre and irrelevant “adverse reactions”). Unless you compare these reports with the average incidence of all those adverse events in the population, over a similar time period in a non vaccination setting you have no idea if there is anything untoward going on.
The untoward :
Risk of thrombocytopenia and thromboembolism after covid-19 vaccination and SARS-CoV-2 positive testing: self-controlled case series study Hippisley-Cox August 2021
https://www.bmj.com/content/374/bmj.n1931
This study study drew on data from 29.1 million people who were vaccinated between December 1, 2020 and April 24, 2021. During that time, 19.6 million people received a first dose of AstraZeneca, 9.5 million had the Pfizer jab.
323 of the vaccinated displayed the thrombotic problems examined in this paper. During the same time period 14,267 Covid patients suffered the same thrombotic pathologies.

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
2 years ago

Elaine, Professor Fenton explains complexity of analysing data. His earlier papers were published but his later ones questioning some pf the Governments statements were not :why?
https://www.conservativewoman.co.uk/professor-norman-fenton-the-truth-about-vaccine-benefits/

Matt Coffey
Matt Coffey
2 years ago

Having also read a number of these studies (and having also got bored with them like you Elaine) the two questions that none of them ever answers (and which I would I would say are the the most import two question) are;

  1. How do they know that a vaccinated person would have contracted Covid-19 if they hadn’t been vaccinated?
  2. If a person’s immune system successfully handles the virus how do they know if it was vaccine induced immunity or natural immunity?
Art C
Art C
2 years ago
Reply to  Ian Manning

Some misinterpretation and a couple of elementary errors here Ian. First, there is little point in arguing about data on the “unvaxxed”. There’s enough data out there to justify whatever you want. And it’s being done daily by folks on both sides of the fence. All I can say is that based on “reliable” data I read last year from several sources at the time I made my (subsequently cancelled) vaccination appointment I should have died 2-4 months ago. Unhappily for “the data” I am still around 🙂 The fact is, as the author points out, that while this is a “nasty illness” there is absolutely no justification for the entirely disproportionate range of restrictions and coercive measures being effected let alone the hysteria generated. With the “temporary” laws now in place many western countries are well on the way to becoming a police state.
Second, I did not claim that “many vaxxed people have concluded the jabs were ‘of little medical value’ “. I made this claim about “these people” which refers to the “friends and family” I started my comment out with; my own circle, in other words. They are nevertheless a good sample (for me anyway) of a possible breaking of the ranks in vaccination religion, if I compare their opinions now to what they were 12 months ago.
Your accusation that I am out to “insult” vaxxed people is nonsense. From whence you arrive at this conclusion I do not know. But I do know that when I look out over Covidland virtually all the insulting is done in the opposite direction, frequently in the most nasty and vicious way. It is an important contributing reason why I have decided not to get vaccinated. I do not want to be used, even just as a statistic, by this type of people to justify anything they do in the future. Of course, given the hysteria about Covid which has been generated the notion of “protection” via the vaccine is seductive. Counter non-vaccination with “risk” and you double the attraction. Run a nation-wide “get vaxxed stay safe (or die inferred)” campaign and you treble it. So I can understand that someone who has bought into the vax narrative may become upset when they hear it might be medically useless, especially just as they’re being urged to get a booster.
As for “coordinated conspiracy“, here we go again. It has become impossible to speak about unvaxxed people without someone using the word conspiracy. It’s laughable, but I don’t blame you. The association has been drummed into us relentlessly. Nevertheless, let me be charitable and admit a mea culpa. I suspect you arrived at the “conspiracy” inference from the word “campaign” which I used. Perhaps I should have used something like “messaging“. And by the “people driving this” I am referring to the bulk of the people in the mass media, the political class and the so-called intelligentsia in my country. From what I see, the messaging we get on Covid – vaccine demands and frequently smearing/demonizing of the unvaxxed – is pretty much the same in most countries in Europe & North America. It’s generally one-way traffic. For example, have you ever seen or heard a sane discussion on the absurdity of the idea (frequently inferred or directly stated) that the unvaxxed are somehow a “danger” and a “threat” to the already “protected” & “safe” vaccinated population?
Let me be clear: I have absolutely no problem with people who take the vaccine. I DO have a problem with people trying to coerce me into taking the vaccine, which is what the EU is now contemplating, I heard today. What are they going to do, hold us all down & forcibly inject us if we don’t go quietly?
For the rest, I can only declare my bemusement at all of this: after almost 24 months of “the process” (restrictions|lockdown|vaccine-booster-harangue|ease-up-a-little) being repeated multiple times we continue to see soaring infection rates. And now a new cycle of “the process” is kicking in across the world due to the dreaded Omnicron variant. No change. Same strategy. Same result coming. No doubt you’re familiar with Einstein’s definition of insanity. If not look it up.

Ian Manning
Ian Manning
2 years ago
Reply to  Art C

Arther, I apologise if I inferred wrongly from your post. And my final comment about conspiracy theorists was not meant to say that all unvaxxed people have that mindset. Just that those who do claim a conspiracy are, like the moon shot hoaxers et al, simply assuming a level of organisation, stealth and intelligence of which governments of all stripes are simply not capable. Again, apologies for any confusion. Despite having been triple vaccinated now (having ‘bought in to the vac narrative’ on what I saw as sound scientific grounds and now real world experience), I actually tend to agree with almost all of your points! Certainly, I have absolutely no desire to coerce or force you or anyone else into taking the vaccine. In fact, it is my Govt (UK) which is forcing me to wear a mask as apparently ‘it protects others, not me’ (sounds like nonsense to me). As the bulk of the UK population is double jabbed with a vaccine that appears to work, I can only assume they mean it must be to protect the unvaccinated. If so, this is clearly a blatant attempt at Big Brother coercion and I want take no part in it. Personally, I don’t see the unvaxxed as putting me in any danger. And how right you are to remind us of Einstein’s definition of insanity! At the moment, it seems to be playing out to the letter with the almost swivel eyed rantings of the scientific community over a new Covid variant of which they know almost nothing and what they do know is that it appears to be a very mild version! Can you see any way of halting this ever deeper descent into a full time ‘medical emergency’ police state? Frankly, I am not at all sanguine that sanity will break out any time soon.

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
2 years ago
Reply to  Ian Manning

Interesting article, demonstrates complexity of data and statistics.
https://www.conservativewoman.co.uk/professor-norman-fenton-the-truth-about-vaccine-benefits/

Ann Roberts
Ann Roberts
2 years ago

Thank you Paul for what felt a balanced and under-heated article. Having seen a a serious adverse reaction to the swine flu jab with my husband in 2010 we decided not to be vaccinated. In our 70’s too be so vilified but others for a clear hearted wellbeing choice has been deeply troubling. We feel a little bit lost in it all. I wonder if this will be resolved in our lifetime. Feels rather sad that our later years will be so constrained to living our lives in this soup of anger and dominance. Quite a number off our peer group have died close to having the vaccine. It is not a risk free option.

Warren T
Warren T
2 years ago
Reply to  Ann Roberts

Don’t feel sad Ann, there are many of us out here who will defend people like you!

Gareth Evenson
Gareth Evenson
2 years ago

Great article, and a great example of why Unherd has stood out from the crowd for me over the last two years and why I now subscribe. For me what jumps out most is the logical gap between the clear and unambiguous conclusion from the data that the vaccine has reduced personal risk but not transmission or infection, and the doubling down of the push to vaccinate those not at risk from covid – where getting these people vaccinated will have little or impact on overall mortality. Its absolutely about control. People have been manipulated into the position of illogical fear. Bit one wonders why no one in authority is able to back down and really allow the unavoidable end game to proceed. I think that so much damage has been done that to back down now is almost impossible to those in charge so the narrative of the need to defend against a terrible indiscriminate killer has to be maintained.

Ian Manning
Ian Manning
2 years ago
Reply to  Gareth Evenson

I agree with your broad argument, Gareth, although from what I have read, vaccination is supposed to reduce your ability to transmit the virus, although I believe it is not thought to be by a significant amount. That said, this lack of secondary protection certainly supports your statement that People have been manipulated into the position of illogical fear’ . For example, the ludicrous concept of ‘Covid passports’ is all about broadly maintaining the control we have sadly allowed our leaders to exercise over us whilst also coercing those not vaccinated to change their minds. Likewise, the legal and social pressure to mask wear: with the realistic risk level so low (due in part to the widespread vaccine take up), just who are we supposed to be protecting? Certainly there will be virtually no extra protection for the wearer. Sadly, so many people seem to have been cajoled by a mixture of fear and social pressure into treating mask wearing as a badge of virtue, a visible sign of their compassion and charity.

Steven Campbell
Steven Campbell
2 years ago

At 75, I have truly seen it all but this somehow seems different. This international panic and response are so much more conspiratorial and organized feeling to me. Coming on the cusp of the failing great panic of Climate Change the pandemic is the perfect segue for another push of the Elites to establish even more draconian measures to alter our lives, cultures and freedoms. The Antithesis is weak and disorganized, at least here in the States. We have small outposts everywhere, my state of Texas, Florida and a few others but they are small players against the forces arrayed against them.
This may be indeed the beginning of “A War Like No Other”. Don’t see much of an alternative.

Warren T
Warren T
2 years ago

I believe you are correct. The coming mandates to “save the planet” will dwarf the mask mandates.

Richard Goodall
Richard Goodall
2 years ago

Your point about the appearance of a previously unseen authoritarian streak in some individuals really struck home. This has become apparent in people I’ve known well(?) for decades. A real eye opener.

chris sullivan
chris sullivan
2 years ago

Another excellent essay thanks Paul. The first sstep in the journey towards (mass ??) murder is to dehumanise the “other” – to deny that they are very similar to oneself – and there are probably very clear stages that a person’s psychological process goes through. If stage 5 was to be actually taking up a weapon and killing or coercing a person (eg to a concentration camp) I wonder which stage folk esp in the US (with lots of guns) are at. It would make for a good green thru red visual display (like fire risk) that perhaps people might take notice of…..Anyway keep thinking about what ‘interventions’ might help this process not get too out of hand – and who knows those in power in the US might actually notice and create a functional synthesis …

Laura Creighton
Laura Creighton
2 years ago

I’m not sure that fear is the motivating emotion here. There is rather a lot of ‘well, I’m not at risk myself, but I am doing it for the elderly’ going around.
This quote from G. K. Chesterton comes to mind:

The modern world is full of the old Christian virtues gone mad. The virtues have gone mad because they have been isolated from each other and are wandering alone. Thus some scientists care for truth; and their truth is pitiless. Thus some humanitarians only care for pity; and their pity (I am sorry to say) is often untruthful. (Orthodoxy chapter 3)

So perhaps it is an excessive focus on charity towards others that is underpinning things. But I think the more important point is that people have been given permission to hate people, wholesale. So you end up with too much charity or compassion (for these objects of my pity) combined with a dreadful anti-charity and anti-compassion, worse than simply ‘none at all’ (for others). But how do you convince people that a balance is needed?
(note that the title of this article, almost certainly not chosen by Paul Kingsworth, is “How fear fuels the vaccine wars”. By the time you read this, it may have become something else.)

Last edited 2 years ago by Laura Creighton
Annemarie Ni Dhalaigh
Annemarie Ni Dhalaigh
2 years ago

Oh yes. People love to be given the opportunity to hate others, and feel righteous in doing so. Covid has given people an outlet for their rage, shame, self hatred, spiritual sickness and disappointment in the world, and allowed them to channel it all into hating anti vaxxers or hating the sheeple

Norman Powers
Norman Powers
2 years ago

That’s a great quote.
I’m reminded of the opening of “Industrial Society and its Future”, where Kaczynski talks about the over-socialized.

Dan Croitoru
Dan Croitoru
2 years ago

One of the most to the point articles ever from Unherd

Andrew Richardson
Andrew Richardson
2 years ago

This is a brilliant summary. Thank you. And yes, it’s hard to be optimistic that our previous freedoms will be restored any time soon. And of course, we know that the climate emergency fits beautifully into the Narrative.

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
2 years ago

Well, you are witnessing the segregation of the virtuous vaxxed from the antisocial unvaxxed as we speak – why do you consider this ‘over-heated rhetoric’.

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
2 years ago

Maybe you should cast your eyes further than North London. That’s the point of the World Wide Web


Bryan Dale
Bryan Dale
2 years ago

Great article, it may have been less noticeable in Britain but this has been going on for sometime. In Britain we saw the Brexit wars. In the United States, we saw Obama weaponize the instruments of state power against his political opponents, the IRS against the tea party, and the FBI fabricating evidence to attack president Trump during his campaign and after. Covid-19 and the installation of Joe Biden as president has accelerated this trend.
we may descend into paranoia, but just because you are paranoid doesn’t mean they aren’t out to get you.

Ian Manning
Ian Manning
2 years ago
Reply to  Bryan Dale

An accusation of fabricating evidence against Donald Trump whose whole life’s verbal output has been a flowing sewer of half truths and downright lies is really quite funny. And, please, Joe Biden wasn’t ‘installed’ as President, he won an election by a healthy majority!

Leslie Cook
Leslie Cook
2 years ago

You expressed my felt “pandemic” experience well, thank you. Thank you to Unherd for being willing to go counter narrative with this. If you are not concerned about the QR code, it is likely that you haven’t seen the extent of personal information contained (truly astounding) and/or you trust a corporate/government profit driven partnership as guardians of that information. It is comprehensive enough to keep us contained by a myriad of subjective bureaucratic rules indefinitely. I saw Canada’s health code data input form including income, tax status, health status, sexual preference, religious preference, charitable giving, criminal history, vaccination refusal history, ad infinitum.
Additionally, controlling information is controlling our perception of truth and thus our lived reality.

Leslie Cook
Leslie Cook
2 years ago
Reply to  Leslie Cook

And notably, Canada’s leader has been on the record many times with “population concerns”, as have the rest of the WEF cadre. It has gotten to the point that conspiracy theories that I never wanted to be true, often have more truth than official narrative. Bobby Kennedy’s point about CIA involvement in pandemic practice prior to 2020 is chilling. I refer also to his comment that the CIA is in the psyop and coup d’etat business. So, why now the “public health” business?
My suspicions are the climate doom narrative has had a deep effect on the leadership class and led to consensus on drastic action to address population growth. What better way to force an unpopular medical procedure with an all cause higher mortality rate (data show this in every country with high vaccine uptake) on a skeptical population than by invoking fear of death? What the virus doesn’t cull, the vaccine is likely to. It’s a win win for depopulation as long as the information police keep treatment and natural immunity truth from the masses, not to mention the vaccine’s documented effects on fertility (noted in Pfizer trial data at the outset).
The CIA also studies social compliance. It seems we predictably comply at around 67% if enough moral pressure is applied. That moral pressure has been overwhelming and defied objective science over and over. The 33% have had it rough but not more than the fear driven mob persecuting them.
I would ask, rather beg, the leadership class to have faith in science, truth, and shared solutions to our societal problems including climate concerns. Honesty builds trust. Covert operations succeed in the short run but eventually the sheep realize there are wolves at the end of the box canyon.

Dennis Boylon
Dennis Boylon
2 years ago

The old divide and conquer. Get the people fighting among themselves while you steal everything. Grab all the power, all the assets, and use overwhelming force to cement yourself permanently into power. We are just approaching the force stage. Enjoy the tyranny everyone. Most “good Germans” did fine after WW2 in anycase. The Sophie Scholls of the world make for a nice movie but the reality of it is those people are murdered to roars of approval from the masses. After the carnage is over… sure… everybody claims they would be like Sophie Scholl. We lie though. We will be the good Germans.

Last edited 2 years ago by Dennis Boylon
James Joyce
James Joyce
2 years ago

This is a brilliant essay!
“The inconceivable as become the inevitable.”
Because there was no mention of the early days of AIDS, and because I think it is relevant here, let me re-post a comment from another piece.
I would also point out that perhaps some believe that the flu jab should also be mandated. Why is this left out of the debate? If flu seasonally and predictably kills X each year, why not mandate the jab and segregate society with the jabbed and not jabbed? QR codes. Massive restrictions. Is it only because Corona might kill 2X or 3X? The principle remains the same, doesn’t it: the elites must take control over even the most fundamental aspects of our life so that we, the non-elites, can be protected from ourselves, and they, the elites, tighten their control.
Why is this a “left vs. right” debate? It wan’t always this way.  
Let’s go back to the age of AIDS. I was in law school in NYC at the time. Hard, hard left. And remember, Gentle Reader, that at the beginning of the epidemic, no one knew how AIDS was transmitted, and there was no distinction between being HIV + and having full-blown AIDS. Could you get AIDS from shaking hands? Being in the same room with an infected person? Toilet seats? Playing basketball? No one knew.
There was rare, general agreement across the board that “we” would not tolerate a two-tiered society that would include the concept of “health passports.” The idea that we would be required to present our health status to random people—the mall security guard, the restaurant hostess, the towel attendant at the gym—was rejected out of hand. We, as lawyers and future lawyers, were told we must be in the vanguard of protecting these rights, and fight like tigers to prevent a dystopian system to be imposed on society; individual rights must be protected.
Now, as referred to in my introductory quote, the situation has been completely flipped. The hard left is now on side with greater authoritarian measures, and the reason is clear: greater control over every aspect of everyday life. This is the goal of the left: take control of everything, increase reliance on the government, make people understand that they have no rights as individuals, they are cogs in the collective machine.
The Corona pandemic was a great crisis, but never let a crisis go waste. To the left, this crisis was an opportunity, and they had to act fast. Fascists like Andrew Cuomo in New York, Jacinda “Zero Covid” Ardern in New Zealand quickly seized even more power, touted the “crisis,” and told people what to do, with no real understanding of the science, as in the early days of AIDS.
Finally, a word about the polarization of the science. I am an occasional commentator on The BBC on Corona and other matters, likely cancelled now. The “medical experts” have habitually lied, distorting the science as the “global citizens” they are. â€œNo one is safe until everyone is safe.” â€œGlobal vaccine equity,” and other lies. The BBC’s so-called experts have tried a two prong approach re guilt: first, people not getting vaccines were irresponsible, putting everyone else at risk. Second, people getting the third jab are also selfish and irresponsible, taking needed vaccines away from the Third World.  
As in many other areas of wokeness, people with real power are often calling the shots, I.e. Samantha Price in a different context, but the point is that these people are truly evil (yes, I stand by this word, cue the downvotes), and the people on BBC and elsewhere constantly banging on about vaccine equity and other positions that are political, not scientific.  
When Neal Fergusson first fabricated his numbers, he and others looked longingly to Asia—seeing the army in the streets and the people imprisoned by armed minders. Wow, wish we could do that! Too bad it would never fly in the West! And then someone said
..well, maybe, if we make the people afraid, really afraid, maybe we can pull it off. Let’s give it a go.
The inconceivable has become the inevitable.  
I first heard that from Freddie on UnHerd.  

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
2 years ago

Well, you certainly gave that dead horse a good thrashing. I mean at Unherd BTL we are pretty much already on board with the skepticism theory. (but for about 3 posters, whom we like, but are sort of like the drunk Uncle off on some mad tirade)

“The solidarity of the pandemic’s early days already feels like a century ago.”

I never felt it, with me it has been protesting since the earliest days when I always would be the only un-masked, and feeling so Self-conscious with the sort of hostility or dismayed feel from the maskers all around. I soon learned to not notice it – but early on the wish to just put on the mask was very strong and I had to force myself to not wear the mask, it was a lesson in how innately we wish to conform and not stick out, or be disapproved of – I have spent my life being extremely eccentric and rebellious – so I see why normal people cannot take the pressure, peer pressure is a strong force, it is almost tangible, and the masses do fall in line. I remember the feel back then, when you would see another, very rare, unmasked, and you would make momentary eye-contact, and feel the connection, and the bond of the resistance.

But I want to post the youtube I was just watching, Kyle and Brennan were guests – the two disabled by reaction to the vax (of the thousands). I also watched them testify at the Senator’s hearing where Fauci, the heads of CDC, NIH, FDA, Pfizer, Moderna, J&J and such were all invited, and NOT ONE showed up – but it is very good if you search it.

This one

WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) will hold a panel discussion with doctors and medical researchers who have treated COVID-19 vaccine injuries and are researching the safety and efficacy of COVID-19 vaccines, patients who have experienced adverse events due to the COVID-19 vaccine, and vaccine mandates. The senator will speak to his advocacy for early treatment, the importance of American’s health care freedom and recognizing natural immunity,”

Kyle also appeared on Dr Campbell’s youtube (the world’s most popular, yet mainstream, covid doctor). worth a search, Campbell is always worth watching, he does one daily, and his faith is getting very shaky as the evidence grows. I watch him daily as he is so calm and comfortable you relax during his talks, and get informed.

But this is the one I was watching – the main guest is some Virus Doctor, and she is really worth listening to… LONG, but good, if you want the other side from mainstream. Definitely worth a watch, very sound. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lraR1R_Imi8

Karl Juhnke
Karl Juhnke
2 years ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

Dr Campbell is doing a great service. First off I found him a little too gullible towards the narrative, but like the author here, he is seeing many of the cracks the less trusting amongst us have seen since flattening the curve didn’t work.

Paul Smithson
Paul Smithson
2 years ago
Reply to  Karl Juhnke

Absolutely agree. I do think he blindly followed ‘the science’ for far too long, but it does seem he is slowly realising that ‘the science’, as given to us by Fauci, Gates (go figure), Ferguson, Pfzer, et al, has gaping holes in it. Thankfully he is now, all be it with baby steps, starting to talk about issues that many of us has known about for a year.

The great news is that if someone like him is finally waking up (all be it very slowly), then there must be many of his followers who have now stopped hitting the snooze button and are about to open their eyes.

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
2 years ago
Reply to  Paul Smithson

I literally watched the scales drop from his eyes over the Big Pharma/Ivemectin debacle. That was quite some time ago and he has warmed to his task since then.

Dan Croitoru
Dan Croitoru
2 years ago
Reply to  Karl Juhnke

Only Dr C is not a medical doctor and is obviously on someone payroll. You know in real world no one delivers 30 hours of video a month without pay ..,keep loving your hero – everyone has the hero they deserve

Jane Watson
Jane Watson
2 years ago
Reply to  Dan Croitoru

He’s an ex-nurse (in the UK NHS). Must have done a PhD at some point, pretty good at reading a paper and knowing if the data stacks up. As a retired member of the British Public sector, he will be on a very generous pension.

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
2 years ago
Reply to  Jane Watson

He was a nurses lecturer.

Andy Moore
Andy Moore
2 years ago
Reply to  Dan Croitoru

And Professor Neil Ferguson done his PhD in Theoretical Physics, he’s had more impact on peoples lives that Dr C , but hey as you say everyone has their hero.

Andy Moore
Andy Moore
2 years ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

I’ve watched Dr Campbell from the start and I have noticed his change over the last couple of months. I think more people are changing their views on this pandemic, however it is the decision makers who need to take notice, otherwise it is very easy for things to spiral completely out of control.

Ian Manning
Ian Manning
2 years ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

Someone calls themselves a doctor on YouTube and you automatically believe them?! You don’t consider the financial attraction of a growing audience of gullible people to our ‘Doctor’?

robert stowells
robert stowells
2 years ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

I like your early scepticism which I share.

stephaniehauselmann
stephaniehauselmann
2 years ago

Thank you for this article.

Martin Bollis
Martin Bollis
2 years ago

This is a really great article, well worth a couple of reads. The memetic tribe link is worth the cost of an Unherd subscription alone.

Michael Richardson
Michael Richardson
2 years ago
Reply to  Martin Bollis

Yes, the memetic tribe link is well worth a read. I was taken by the definition:

We define a memetic tribe as a group of agents with a meme complex, or memeplex, that directly or indirectly seeks to impose its distinct map of reality — along with its moral imperatives — on others.

and particularly the bit

seeks to impose its distinct map of reality

This seems to me to be rather incisive, the idea that a group should, rather that attempt to impose a way of dealing with reality, attempts to impose a particular reality. That being much more frightening, since that reality may bear little resemblance to, well, reality itself.

Last edited 2 years ago by Michael Richardson
Martin Bollis
Martin Bollis
2 years ago

Interesting to see the dismissals of the overview 
 from well inside a tribe.

Hardee Hodges
Hardee Hodges
2 years ago

Stay alert. You may be required to obtain a smartphone that hold your social credit score, as every Chinese is aware. Without suitable scores you will not be allowed to travel, enter stores or transact business. Could be coming if we allow it.

Alyona Song
Alyona Song
2 years ago

what the Covid apocalypse has revealed to me is that when people are frightened, they can be very easily controlled.” – thank you Paul. Except, i’d venture to say that it’s not so much a revelation from Covid, but a tragically forgotten (or ignored?) historical lesson. The humankind has been there before with devastating consequences.

Howard Gleave
Howard Gleave
2 years ago

A brilliant article. The last sentence reference to 1984 is not over the top. I was always a “synthesis” man. But what if it’s not on offer? Readers should save this article while they can. It might become like the clandestine, samizdat, analysis of IngSoc totalitarianism written by Goldberg in 1984 (a state so totalitarian that it even ran the resistance so as to identify potential adversaries).

Isabelle Dubois
Isabelle Dubois
2 years ago

I’d been reading articles from Unherd for quite a while, and if only for this one (but there are so many others!), I am very happy that I have now subscribed. What an excellent article, and one that gives me some hope again, in that I feel less alone. I live in France, where the war between the vaxxed and unvaxxed is terrible, and I am honestly scared of what the future holds in store for the unvaxxed like myself (unvaxxed because of a threat to my health more serious than the so-called upsides of getting the jab, but not an official exemption from getting that jab here). I am actually thinking of moving to Sweden if at all possible, as that country seems to be the only one that has kept a civilised approach to the whole thing.

Last edited 2 years ago by Isabelle Dubois
Drahcir Nevarc
Drahcir Nevarc
2 years ago

I am very pro-vax, in large part precisely because I loathe and disdain masking. In this respect, I was heartened yesterday afternoon in Bristol to see widespread flouting – probably 80% – of the revived mask mandate.

Art C
Art C
2 years ago

A sober appraisal of what we are going through right now. The most disquieting aspect has to be the intolerance, nastiness and totalitarian instincts displayed by so many of our intelligentsia, the supposed standard bearers of our civilization! As the absurdities pile up with each new wave of lockdowns and restrictions it often seems as if these people have lost their grip on reason itself. Belief has become obsession and fanaticism appears to be about to kick in. This time it’s not the bourgeoisie or the Jews, the kulaks or the speculators, the deplorables or the Muslims. It’s the unvaccinated!! Identify them! Demonize them! Ostracise them! Lock them all up! Watching it unfold before our eyes, it is not difficult to understand how tyrannical police states like the Soviet Union, Maoist China and Nazi Germany evolved. And they didn’t even have smartphones to enforce compliance.

Last edited 2 years ago by Art C
Ian Manning
Ian Manning
2 years ago
Reply to  Art C

In the same vein, Arther, I was grimly amused to realise that I, a left of centre freedom loving Labour supporter, was more in tune on this issue with Bojo and his right of centre followers! (Luckily I share no other view in common with the Tousle Haired Twerp!)
But how ironic that the left seems to have adopted so completely this agenda of social control and demonisation of people simply exercising their personal freedoms, whilst it’s the Right who seem more in tune with freedom of choice. A worrying state of affairs.

Fred Bloggs
Fred Bloggs
2 years ago

Great writing.

Warren T
Warren T
2 years ago

Societies are being transformed, with no public discussion and no consent, into a version of a Silicon Valley nerd’s wet dreams.
Please watch “The Social Dilemma” to better understand why the polarization is happening. Each side of the debate is being given two different set of “facts” depending on who they are. All in the name of advertising revenue. It’s disgusting.

Stephanie Surface
Stephanie Surface
2 years ago

Guess I belong in the “right wing group”, that Vaccines were oversold and that vaccine passports are unacceptable. Vaccinated should feel safe and happy, if they think that the vaccinations are the only solution against Covid. Although we now know, that Vaccinated can also infect others as well as the Unvaccinated. The new variant Omicron seems not to care, if people are vaccinated or not. The CEO of Modena just said, that the company isn’t sure if vaccinations help at all to prevent Omicron. Are we going to have to take endless new vaccinations, not knowing what it’ll do to the body in 5-10 years time.
My fear is also that all these mobile phone Covid codes go seamlessly into others to prevent the Global Warming “Apocalypse”, where governments take over and determine how we conduct our future lives


Last edited 2 years ago by Stephanie Surface
Ian Manning
Ian Manning
2 years ago

On what possible basis can you say that the Omicron variant ‘seems not to care if people are vaccinated or not’? The whole point about Omicron is that almost nothing is known about it for certain! Like most of the media and scientific community, instead of keeping quiet in the absence of verifiable fact, you are asserting things that simply cannot yet be established. It adds to nothing to this discourse.

Stephanie Surface
Stephanie Surface
2 years ago
Reply to  Ian Manning

We know about the Omicron variant from Dr.Coetzee of S Africa, who discovered similar symptoms in vaccinated and unvaccinated patients (mostly young men and a child) and all had pretty mild illnesses. So far, we don’t have the statistics and outcome from a huge number of Omicron infected patients, but I thought her discovery was pretty significant


Ian Manning
Ian Manning
2 years ago

Fair point, Stephanie, although I probablybreacted as I did because I am so fed up with the media and some in the scientific community seemingly unable to stop themselves making apocalyptic pronouncements about a variant of which they have so little hard evidence. Also, as it is well known that vaxxed people can still both catch and transmit the virus, it is hardly surprising that Omicron should be similar. As for your question about endless vaccinations, I sympathise entirely. Somehow we are just going to have to learn to live with this virus. This constant lurching into draconian social control measures at every new variant is untenable long term. It is the way a climate of fear has been so easily adopted by the British people that has really surprised me.

alex CK
alex CK
2 years ago

Thank you!
If vaccines are so good, why are the vaccinated scared of an unvaccinated person? Does that mean the vaccinations don’t work? It’s clearly illogical.
And it’s really not an issue of stopping the spread: I actually fear vaccinated more than unvaccinated, since symptoms tend to be lighter – so they spread it more easily, not realizing they have Covid. 

Michael Richardson
Michael Richardson
2 years ago
Reply to  alex CK

If I have to go into hospital, I would prefer unvaccinated staff, for exactly that reason.

Ian Manning
Ian Manning
2 years ago
Reply to  alex CK

Surely the spread if infections isn’t the issue. It’s the severity of any illnesses resulting from these infections. In a vaccinated person, the chance of severe illness is heavily reduced. Similarly (and we see this in the huge preponderance of unvaxxed people in hospital and dying), the unvaccinated are at much greater risk from an infection. I’m not scared of unvaccinated people, merely perplexed at their recklessness, but I certainly take exception to being forced to wear a mask or otherwise have my life curtailed merely to protect them from themselves.

Dr Stephen Nightingale
Dr Stephen Nightingale
2 years ago

The rage that swirls around ones attitude to covid has only replaced the rage that swirled around ones attitude to Brexit, and Home Secretaries simply use both to define who is ‘in’ or who is ‘out’ of the Islanders’ Club.

We are certainly unlikely to see any helpful change emanating from Westminster.

Rafi Stern
Rafi Stern
2 years ago

Yes, those interviews in Vienna were kind of eerie. Like, “die Ungeimpften sind unsere UnglĂŒck”…

Alison Tyler
Alison Tyler
2 years ago

I so seriously wish that you are wrong in your analysis, but I fear you are not. You are the only commentator I have come across who seems to share any of my views. Thank you.

Neven Curlin
Neven Curlin
2 years ago

Great article! Thank you, Unherd!

Dick Stroud
Dick Stroud
2 years ago

Very good. Thought provoking and well written. Thanks

Jim Cooper
Jim Cooper
2 years ago

Looks as if Foucault was right then. The great confinement of mid17th century Paris is happening again but not just in Paris

Jim Cooper
Jim Cooper
2 years ago

Surveillance by fear and algorithm

Laura Pritchard
Laura Pritchard
2 years ago

Whilst I agree with the vast majority of the content of this article, I found it’s debate around the escalation in extremes and the people holding extreme positions in itself fear inducing.
Living in a country with very extreme vaccine mandates that are only getting worse and there is wide, state condoned vitriolic propaganda against vaccinated people, I find it interesting that I only really know one person who will ridicule you for having had the vaccine and one who considers anyone who hasn’t as an irresponsible criminal.
Everyone else quietly gets on with life and, in particular, the vaccinated are hugely accommodating to the unvaccinated (considering the Narrative they lie under). What they don’t do is speak up for them. I think that is because there is no organ or space within which they can safely do this. No official or even mildly well known advocates. Not even a slogan although I quite like, #NotInMyName.
I would like a place where we talk about our individual stories and reasons for doing the things we do without fear or ridicule, where the discourse is polite and understanding, where it is understood that we do best when we learn from each other and where we can wobble about in a place where vaccines have efficacy but aren’t the be all and end all, where certain spaces can advocate for the highest level of safeguards without insisting that everyone else has to do it as well but anyone entering that space can show due respect to what is needed there and where we agree that the starting point of any action, precautionary principle or not is common sense.
This space is sometimes some of these things.
Anyway, I’m a bit tired of either end wagging the dog and hope we get past this rage and fear sooner rather than later.

Tim Hurren
Tim Hurren
2 years ago

The general tone and conclusions of Paul K’s article seem about right to me. On the wearing of the everyday type of mask, does anyone have details of proper scientific evidence regarding their efficacy? Also it doesn’t seem to me that the Covid experience of Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland has been any better than England, despite more draconian restrictions over quite a long period. Surely the number crunchers must have enough data to draw some up scientific comparisons and conclusions by now. Or is that too much toask?

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
2 years ago

In 1968/69 88K died of flu. What percentage of the population was over 80 years of age and how many beds were in the NHS? How many of the people who died of flu in 1968/69 had diabetes and or heart problems? Today what percentage of the population is over 80 years of age and how many beds are there in the NHS?How many of those who have died of Covid or with Covid have Diabetes and heart problems?
Ferguson panicked the Government because he predicted 500K deaths but how much fear was due to reduction in numbers of beds and age and morbidity profile of the UK? Is Covid a disease which mainly kills people over 80 years of age with one or more health issues but mainly Diabetes and heart problems? Do we need the ability to build emergency wards next to hospitals, perhaps using car parks to cope with diseases?

Jim Cooper
Jim Cooper
2 years ago

This time the houses of correction are unneccesary; corporatism can control us in our homes, on the streets and even in our own heads.

Alex Stonor
Alex Stonor
2 years ago

I am vey glad to see a dialectical interpretation & approach.
This article pleases and frightens me; the longer I leave it, the more the prospect 
of receiving any of the vaccine options more disturbing and yet I’m worried that very soon, I may have no choice and no get out. It gives such a great bird’s eye view of the whole picture. I feel lucky to live in England, because we still have most of our freedoms. 
I think you’r right that we must resist; a double vaccinated friend is now no better than a ‘rat-licker’ like me, if she doesn’t have the booster. 
My recipe, for what it’s worth, is to limit my news, be picky and include some mainstream media. I eschew news feeds that have dramatic music in the background with a tinge of fear mongering, even if they do substantiate my position = Unherd, FT, Facebook (ie The Guardian, The Telegraph, The Spectator + Local rag, curated by my friends).
It has never been a better time to consider implementing ‘Boycott the Media day’! My suggestion is 31st August: the death of Princess Diana. 

Rob Britton
Rob Britton
2 years ago

Academics and intellectuals have never been that interested in freedom or democracy. It was academics and intellectuals who supported Kristallernacht for example. I wouldn’t be too downbeat though. It is a bit difficult to introduce autocracy in a democracy, and the public are already starting to become more rebellious.

Jonny
Jonny
2 years ago

If we had been testing people for flu or the common cold over the last 50 years with the level of media and government hysteria of the last 2 years , the world would be a jibbering wreck. We have virtually stopped even taking about the level of serious illness associated with covid. Besides the first 2 screaming days of the so called newest variant virtually all other comment including now from the WHO has been that it is mild or unnoticeable. If we continue to follow the current path of scare tactics we really are doomed and it’s not going to be from a virus.

Jordan Flower
Jordan Flower
2 years ago

The Enlightenment gave us the tools to understand, and in many cases, manipulate material reality in exponentially increasing degrees. Since then, we have seen miraculous declines in human despair, especially over the last 100 years.
But this has also caused us to elevate rationality to cosmic levels. Ostensibly, there is no problem that can’t be solved if we just shift some molecules or fire some electrons enough. There’s no social ill that can’t be snuffed out if we just centrally plan a little bit more.
You see, pain is not an arbitrary and often tragic rule of existence; it is the exception to the otherwise utopian existence that you’re entitled to.
Thus “dereliction of social duty” has become the de facto cause of any suffering, as opposed to… say… the nature of being finite.
Furthermore, suffering can never be from overregulation, or bad policy. Our leaders may not be perfect, but their solutions were painstakingly drafted with the purest of intentions, with endless factors taken into account. They brought in experts, programmed and ran simulations which spit out terabytes of data. And you—plebeian—have the gall to question it? Do you have a degree in virology? I didn’t think so. Your insolence is exactly why the plan isn’t working. Trust The Expertsℱ harder.
For all of the benefits this 2,000+ year march of liberalism has given us—individual sovereignty, enlightenment, equality—it has run out of things to liberate, and convince itself the only way to continue this exponential eradication of suffering is to repossess liberty.
And that is precisely the endpoint of the liberal arc.
It began with the divine discovery of the individual’s paramount value and responsibility, but we will witness it end as the individual disintegrates into a sea of faces.
Get in your pod. Eat your lab meat. Take the drugs. Sign-in to work. Comply harder. Mail the ballot. Believe The Scienceℱ. Do your part.

“The more you try to avoid suffering, the more you suffer, because smaller and more insignificant things begin to torture you, in proportion to your fear of being hurt. The one who does most to avoid suffering is, in the end, the one who suffers most.” â€“ Thomas Merton

Last edited 2 years ago by Jordan Flower
robert stowells
robert stowells
2 years ago
Reply to  Jordan Flower

Firstly, I do not believe in the “Enlightenment”.  Even Steven Pinker acknowledges that our primitive ancestors were beings capable of rational thought just as we are today. Moreover, “Enlightenment” suggests some profound quantum leap in consciousness, suggesting a change in the very seat of consciousness akin to the difference in step between the unconscious existence of animals in nature and the conscious existence of humanity. But there has been no such quantum leap and so we have this misnomer of “The Enlightenment” stolen from spirituality, particularly Buddhism, where “enlightenment” is the achievement of a “cosmic consciousness”, twisted to describe an age which is very much the opposite and quite mundane. A more appropriate term to describe the period called “The Enlightenment” might be “The Detachment” which conveys more of the atomisation and self-focus, along with the Cartesian idea of mechanism independent of the need for a God which characterises thought of the age.  I do not however go in for such titles Enlightenment/Detachment particularly as I believe that there has been no quantum leap in consciousness, as yet, and our seat of consciousness is still in the same place and evolution has been pretty much continuous, except that following the time of the “The Detachment” it has become very much ever more complex societally. 
Secondly, following on from the idea of atomisation or self-focus, there appears to be this rejection of liberal freedom by intellectuals who believe that liberal freedom has failed in the last few decades. For me it is all about the exploration of the “self” and that exploration is a necessary part of evolution and humanity will become more and more obsessed with their “bits and pieces” (as all the rest has already been done) and the next generation will become further obsessed with “bits and pieces” that they have discovered on their “bits and pieces” until there is a universal revulsion or “satiation” with obsession with self.  
If our liberals believe that we can have “from each according to their abilities; to each according to their needs” only through a totalitarian state (particularly now that all counties are bankrupt following the COVID insanity) then I believe they are wrong. Pinker may believe that people are infinitely malleable but I believe that Marxist type sharing will only come through “satiation” not through “imposition” (even an imposition assisted by brainwashing or other medical intervention)

Last edited 2 years ago by robert stowells
robert stowells
robert stowells
2 years ago

Incidentally not only was the name “Enlightenment” stolen from eastern spiritual thinking by the West but I think also the very idea of evolution was similarly stolen. There is the principle of “redemption” in the inner teaching of many of the eastern religions, and probably even the Gnosticism of early Christianity relating to the liberation of spirit from matter (the West pretty much persecuted all those inner ideas out of Christianity to make it a static earthly religion to appeal to pagan converts). Effectively as I see it, in the Hindu Days and Night of Brahm, God, or the Divine Essence behind creation breathes in and out, with each breathing out being a “big bang” and each inbreathing being an “implosion” of the universe. In each breathing out spirit becomes matter and with each inbreathing spirit rediscovers its nature as it is “redeemed” from matter (or redeems matter itself – every atom and grain of sand being on the journey) in the return to the Divine Essence. It has always been there in the East and the West is just catching up while, as usual, selectively rejecting or ridiculing aspects which it does not like. So there is very much a basis of “evolution” in eastern religions also present in the ideas of reincarnation or learning and evolving as a spiritual being through many many lives on that path of redemption.

Last edited 2 years ago by robert stowells
robert stowells
robert stowells
2 years ago

I adhere to neither thesis.
Based also on the interview with Freddie Sayers the author appears to be one who supported the Thesis but who had a change of mind and said enough is enough after viewing the recording of Freddie Sayers’ visit to Vienna and the intolerance towards those resisting being vaccinated exhibited by those interviewed and decided to draw the line. So he is a recent convert and stated in the interview with Freddie that he took to lockdown willingly and so was one of those “ducks to water” who accepted that COVID would be life threatening to some (similar to Helen Thompson) and happily wore masks even though he acknowledges at the same time (in this article) that it was, or is, only a fairly moderate flu. This is sadly what so many “ducks to water” fell for and clearly many are ready for totalitarianism (the author himself states dangerously that in the interview that liberal freedom has failed). Who can or would dare deny that COVID, or the common cold or any variation of flu is a “filthy killer”. These things such as COVID are part of life and that is the sadness. We prolong life with flu jabs etc but if something like a cold winter, or flu such as COVID which is not on the flu jab comes along then there is going to be a spike in deaths. As a 63 year old who caught COVID in early 2020 (a couple of months after a flu jab) and worked through it even though it was a misery, if asked, I would not want any grandchildren or family I had to tiptoe around me wearing face masks and stop the world just in case I caught a severe bout of COVID. Yes try to protect the vulnerable but do not stop the world or the world economy and wreck the future limiting choices. If it was the bubonic plague and people were staggering from their homes and dropping in the streets dead then it might be different. The fact is that the economy is the sacred flame of Capitalism which is the prevailing philosophy and modus of today which is why stopping the economy is such an unthinkable thing. It happened. Who benefitted?
The second point I would make again stems from this idea of COVID being part of life. The author has drawn comparisons between Brexit and COVID reactions but the only common denominator here is the insanity in both cases of those undemocratically opposing Brexit and those willingly supporting the world lockdown for COVID. It is as if we have lost the anchorage of common sense in our societies. Perhaps all of the liberals that maintained that anchorage have now passed on to some higher round of existence leaving a void behind (it could be one of the best arguments and evidence for esotericism and spiritual evolution). They would have moved on only when they were sure that good sense will eventually prevail (but how long will the intervening dark ages last?).   The second point I wanted to make relates to humanity’s relationship with nature which is peculiar to the COVID reaction.  Animals live unconsciously in nature but humanity lives consciously in nature seeing itself as apart and abuses nature to date. In COVID I see a further development in that humanity sees itself not only as apart from nature but now sees nature as hostile and needing to be kept at arm’s length by mask wearing, hiding, and running for the hills which all promises a bleak future of intolerable ugliness.

Last edited 2 years ago by robert stowells
Matt Coffey
Matt Coffey
2 years ago

I disagree with your second point Robert. Whilst there clearly are a large number who see nature as you describe it I suspect that those who seek to control the narrative actually believe that they do (or at least can) control nature and use it as another tool to control the masses. Disease and disease therapies are an obvious example but we’ve also seen NASA and now the devil incarnate (Gates) experimenting with controlling the weather. It’s at least satisfying to know with certainty that nature will of course kick our arses as and when they need kicking.

Last edited 2 years ago by Matt Coffey
Andrea X
Andrea X
2 years ago

Very interesting, thanks, but disappointing too. I was eagerly awaiting the “Synthesis” bit, but in the end it never came.

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
2 years ago
Reply to  Andrea X

Click on the link….

Liz DeLiso
Liz DeLiso
2 years ago

Fear sells, including the sort of fear that this article generates. I am completely fed up with the “We’re doomed, we’re doomed” stuff being churned out by ‘both sides’ of this debate, when most of us situate ourselves somewhere between the two sides. Not only does fear sell, it renders us impotent, and this essay promotes impotence. To pick up just one point “We are moving towards enforced mandatory vaccination of entire populations — including children“. We already have this, in most Western countries, and have had for decades. So? De-dramatise, offer some democratic solutions, allow us to muddle through without telling us that there’s no point. Creeping totalitarianism – I get it – but the right response is to act in such a way that reinforces the flawed democratic structures that western liberal democracies have been painfully building over the centuries, not to panic-monger.

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
2 years ago
Reply to  Liz DeLiso

Not all vaccines are equal. And if you can’t see the severe and mostly illogical overreach of governments, then you have your head buried firmly in the sand.

Sam
Sam
2 years ago

This article was worth this month’s subscription price to Unherd

Iris C
Iris C
2 years ago

An excellent article which shows how fear can be generated, flourish, and expand until it is takes over a society.
This happened with the McCarthy communist trials in America in the early 1950s and the extraordinary abuse and sacrifice of children to Satanic practices in the late 1980 and early 1990s in the USA. The latter was late in arriving in the UK but for several years it brought havoc to ordinary families. Fortunately our judges are more sceptical of such goings-on and it came to a head with the child abuse scandal in Orkney and the Clyde Enquiry which proved that such allegations had no foundation in fact..
I think the fear of catching Covid is in the same category. It is irrational for the ordinary citizen who is fit and well – with no life-threatening illness – to be frightened of getting this virus. I would even put the elderly into this category. The 4,000-strong march past the cenotaph of elderly service men and women on Remembrance Sunday without masks, proves that most of the sensible elderly are not too fazed.
Unfortunately the fear is heightened by publishing the daily statistics of those who are infected. That figure tells us nothing. I even think that the press should also stop publishing the other figures too – those in hospital or who have died..
We have been told that we must learn to live with Covid (and its frequent mutations) so let’s get on with it.. ..

Dustshoe Richinrut
Dustshoe Richinrut
2 years ago

Vaccinated, cured or dead? Says the honest health minister of Germany of Germans?
In the same vein as the fate of Henry VIII’s six wives, that laconic description is.
Such that:

Vaccinated, Cured, Dead; Vaccinated, Cured, Fed-up.

I suspect all in the government are fed-up.

“Are you, young man, vaccinated?”
“No. But I am castigated.”
“Well, one hopes you are chastened.”
“Sir, you must be laughin’. “

Art C
Art C
2 years ago

Pop goes the weasel

Terence Fitch
Terence Fitch
2 years ago

More Kingsnorthian sonorous prose echoing boomingly on the shores of ruin. He thinks there’s a narrative? Well there certainly is one from the smug Dark Mountain Collective bunch of doomsayers he helped found. They are very reminiscent of the Bloomsbury bunch during WW1 who scuttled off to do ‘war work’ on nice estates well away from Joe Public. This seer of loathing and despair has retreated to the West Coast of Ireland to contemplate the rest of us like a Walrus tearfully considering oysters.

Bruce Metzger
Bruce Metzger
2 years ago

This essay is a clarion call for a righteous wake-up call to avoid the death of authenticity. What I find with those who are pro-vaccination in a forceful manner often are also government employees and people retired from their beloved government as a good social worker in all kinds of professional employ.

Andrew McDonald
Andrew McDonald
2 years ago

I’m one of Kingsnorth’s biggest fans, but I think you’re right about the exaggerated doom doom doom in this piece, and especially this all-powerful QR code – that seems to have passed me by as well. I’ll keep an eye out though.

C Spencer
C Spencer
2 years ago

I went to Germany for work recently; no QR code to show proof of a negative PCR test or double vaccination, then no entry to: bars, restaurants, museums, clubs and cinemas. This is happening already in most countries in mainland Europe.

Dustshoe Richinrut
Dustshoe Richinrut
2 years ago

Good post by you.
Most of those in a position to dictate to others vis-a-vis the pandemic are merely groping in the dark, I imagine. They mean well. Most, mind you.

mfield953
mfield953
2 years ago

While I’m sympathetic to the view that the panic is overdone, I take issue with this statement:
The Covid vaccines, whatever their other virtues, have not prevented transmission of the virus, as governments have now publicly acknowledged.”
This is untrue. Recent studies (July-October 2021) show that vaccination absolutely DOES reduce transmission:
https://doi.org/10.1101/2021.10.14.21264959
https://doi.org/10.1101/2021.07.13.21260393
https://www.newscientist.com/article/2294250-how-much-less-likely-are-you-to-spread-covid-19-if-youre-vaccinated/

Ian Manning
Ian Manning
2 years ago
Reply to  mfield953

It is very disappointing to see that someone posting presumably reliable studies showing an important aspect of the vaccines’ effects (that they do reduce transmission) is heavily disagreed with. Surely those doing so should post links to reliable studies verifiably showing that the opposite is true. Simply to say you disagree with a factual point might suggest a degree of close mindedness that is unfortunate in such a debate.

Geoffrey Wilson
Geoffrey Wilson
2 years ago

Very good article, making me (and clearly many commentators) think, without insulting “others” of all types. I was however puzzled by the part about US art critic Jerry Saltz, saying he was an example of those fomenting hate of the other side. I read this again carefully, and he seemed to be tolerant, not hateful. Saying some (in this case the unvaxxed) can die if they want to is a tolerant message. It makes the good point that the vaxxed, who are pretty well protected, should not fear and therefore be nasty to the unvaxxed. There, it is a first for me defending an art critic! Isn’t life interesting.

Matt Coffey
Matt Coffey
2 years ago

Hard to tell Geoffrey if your comment is passive aggressive or if you’re just as ignorant as Saltz.

Art C
Art C
2 years ago

Mr Saltz has clearly swallowed ‘the Narrative’ hook line and sinker. His smug “We who are protected” and contemptuous “let them die” betrays the certainty of his position. But to be fair, he has a point. Because if the vaccines are so good and the virus is so terrible then it follows that (a) all vaccinated folks are safe .. and .. (b) those who remain unvaccinated will all die soon! Q.E.D. However, option (b) is surely a personal choice, so why should there be any fuss and bother at all?
Except … what if the unvaccinated did NOT die soon? Or worse still, what if the vaccinated started displaying unpleasant side effects? Such an outcome would mean that “we the protected” were wrong all along! Duped, dummied, fooled, played and milked to boot by Big Pharma! And we swallowed it all because we are cowards, morons or both.
An ego subscribing to intelligence and “the science” simply could not tolerate such ridicule. This explains the increasing hysteria and vicious smears directed toward vaccine-hesitant people by the media, government and public intellectuals. Mr Saltz is small fish in this pond. But the fact that a mildly popular art critic feels the need to comment in the way he did tells us a lot about where we are: he is not only signalling his affiliations and confirming his contempt for the damned, but also fervently trying to heap ridicule on them in the hope that is does not descend upon himself first.

Last edited 2 years ago by Art C
Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
2 years ago
Reply to  Art C

The man living across the road from me has had severe adverse reactions to the vaccine. Late forties. Slim. Walked and talked like a Covidian, then bam
 vaccination and the narrative has changed.

Art C
Art C
2 years ago

This does not surprise me. There were several reports of side effects when they started vaccinating in earnest at the beginning of the year. I know this because some media did report it. And then, not long after the unhappy exposure of the AstraZeneca blood clots, all negative reports stopped almost from one day to the next. Obviously, the blood clot problem and the other adverse impact issues were solved all in one go! Your unfortunate neighbour must have been vaccinated before this occurred. You should inform him that the vaccines are now 100% safe with zero side-effects. I heard it on the news last night.

Alan Hawkes
Alan Hawkes
2 years ago

There is a difference between the individual, who could die, and society, which will continue in some form. There is a reason we do not allow people to walk down the street firing bullets at random. Why should there not be a restriction on those, unvaccinated by choice, doing the same thing with a virus? What happened to individual duty to avoid causing harm to others?

Last edited 2 years ago by Alan Hawkes
C Spencer
C Spencer
2 years ago
Reply to  Alan Hawkes

Your analogy would work if the vaccines really did prevent transmission, but they don’t. The vaccinated are walking down the street firing their guns randomly and some of their bullets will also hit home.

mfield953
mfield953
2 years ago
Reply to  C Spencer

Please post your evidence that vaccines do not prevent transmission. Evidence that vaccines DO greatly reduce transmission is here:
https://www.newscientist.com/article/2294250-how-much-less-likely-are-you-to-spread-covid-19-if-youre-vaccinated/
https://doi.org/10.1101/2021.10.14.21264959
https://doi.org/10.1101/2021.07.13.21260393

Ian Manning
Ian Manning
2 years ago
Reply to  Alan Hawkes

Because, Alan, as a fully vaxxed person I am happy with the level of protection I have received and therefore can see no reason for the unvaxxed to be restricted in any way. As I have said before, that is as long as they accept the risks and do not expect me and the rest of society to suffer restrictions (masks, distancing, lockdowns, mass testing, travel bans, etc). on their behalf. Freedom is not always a risk free option.

Art C
Art C
2 years ago
Reply to  Ian Manning

Thank you Ian.
I wish some of the spineless little twits who have been ordering these nonsensical and authoritarian measures across the world had the courage to make your call as I understand it: i.e. to lift all restrictions and let us get on with our lives, whether vaxxed or unvaxxed. I am pretty sure, too, that 99.99% of unvaccinated people would accept the “risks” and they would accept happily, too, the removal of restrictions which they never asked for in the first place and which the evidence before our eyes tells us haven’t worked one jot.
Let me spell it out for Alan:

  • The vaccines work.
  • If you’re vaxxed you’re protected and safe (side-effects unknown).
  • If you’re unvaxxed you’re at risk (level unknown).
  • Unvaxxed people pose zero risk to vaxxed folks. If they do, assertion 1 above is incorrect: meaning the vaccines don’t work; in which case we’ve all been had and it’s a waste of time getting vaxxed!
  • Conclusion: we can lift all restrictions and all live happily alongside one another.
Last edited 2 years ago by Art C
Matt Coffey
Matt Coffey
2 years ago
Reply to  Art C

Deaths from Covid-19 before the advent of vaccinations was roughly 0.2% and deaths from Covid-19 since vaccinations started is roughly 0.2% i.e. vaccines do nothing.
Happily, most of us aren’t like school teachers Art so we can accept the correct conclusion even if the working out was hopeless.

Art C
Art C
2 years ago
Reply to  Alan Hawkes

For the simple reason Alan, that the unvaxxed pose NO threat at all to the vaccinated.

Matt Coffey
Matt Coffey
2 years ago
Reply to  Art C

If only it worked the other way around. Seems that the spike protein shedding from vaccinated people is being treated as a pathogen.

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
2 years ago
Reply to  Alan Hawkes

Please provide accurate and precise data on those who have died – age and all health conditions which could increase vulnerability to Covid so we can make our own analysis.