BY JAMES BEMBRIDGE
‘15m jabs to freedom.’ Daily Mail, 27 Dec 2020
That headline, along with similar slithery talk of ‘a way out’ and a vaccine with a ‘100% effective rate’, left people with the not unreasonable impression there may come a time when they can go about their lives without the say so of a blond-haired blobfish.
But the 15 million jabs came and went, and here we are, once again menaced by ministers threatening Christmas. ‘Take the booster to save Christmas’ demands Sajid Javid. Well, I wasn’t aware this was a hostage situation, and in any case, isn’t it best practice to not give the captors any kind of ransom or concession? Who’s to say the ransom will stop at a booster jab, or that they won’t be encouraged to take another cherished holiday at jabpoint somewhere down the line?
OK, I’m being somewhat facetious. Clearly, anyone considered vulnerable to Covid should make the calculation that it’s in their interest to take the boosters, all I ask is that the rest of us be left out of the equation. Perhaps the reason no journalist has asked Mr Javid to expand on his Christmas threat is that it’s a threat so impotent as to be impossible to expand. What does he suggest, door to door inspections? Great optics for Boris ‘liberal at heart’ Johnson’s rumoured snap election. Not.
With the unvaccinated being treated to a renewed prescription of slurs, smears and not so subtle threats, you’d be forgiven for thinking that to opt out of the vaccine is not an acceptable or even valid option. The treatment of people who refuse this treatment has often been as ill as the illness it seeks to treat. But the data that justified this bigotry towards the unvaccinated has now not only been proven to be false, but to have been actively falsified. That’s right, it’s emerged that the trial for Pfizer’s Covid vaccine was wrought with such corruption as to amount to, in the words of the BMJ, ‘misconduct’. There’s that exalted science we were asked to follow.
I suggest that people are hesitant to take these new vaccines, not because of fringe loons like David Icke or Piers Corbyn, but because of this sort of disinformation emanating from health officials and their media ancillaries. It’s clear that for some time now we’ve been undersold the dangers of the vaccine while being oversold its benefits. Back in January, a Dr Sara Kayat appeared on ITV’s This Morning to, in her words, ‘shout from the rooftops’ that the vaccine is ‘100% effective against hospitalisation and death’. This arguably dangerous lie was said with the kind of walleyed wonder of a quack Californian health guru pushing some celery juice cure-all.
But it seems vaccine misinformation is a one-way street. Twitter recently banned my friend Bernie Spofforth for merely stating the following:
This factually correct statement apparently breached Twitter’s rather oppressively named ‘COVID-19 Misleading Information Policy’. And yet, under this radar of diligent fact checking, Ms Kayat’s misinformation seems to have gone mercifully unnoticed; her This Morning clip still being available on Twitter for anyone to see or believe – and it’s the kind of barefaced lie that really has to be seen to be believed.
So much of the messaging around jabs has been a kind of sickly inversion of that old wartime spirit, with cowardice valorised over bravery. There’s a sense that to submit oneself without question to new vaccine technology is to be ‘doing one’s duty’, and that those who don’t are somehow the equivalent of modern-day deserters. In this hurricane of misinformation and credulity, it’s dimly felt that to say, ‘hold on, can I just wait until there’s more research on this new medicine?’, is to announce oneself as a fool. Well, more fool those who took Pfizer at their word.
As of writing, news has just broken that Sajid Javid is to mandate vaccines for NHS staff. Why do I get the awful impression that this ‘no jab, no job’ policy will be welcomed by the same people who scorned Harvey Weinstein for suggesting the very same thing?
James Bembridge is Deputy Editor of Country Squire Magazine.