Note the date. One year on from the day of that fateful announcement to eschew freedom and choose the path of tyranny, I had hoped I would be writing of a nation awaking from its slumber.

The news is good. Mortality associated with Covid-19 has – again – made its seasonal departure and is essentially absent from these shores compared to typical levels of respiratory disease. As of the week ending 12 March 2021, data from the ONS shows that overall mortality was below the five-year average and is trending downwards.

Similar things have also happened in other parts of the world, notably without the imposition of tyrannical law-making. Mortality is also flat in countries that have imposed inhumane and draconian restrictions on normal life, despite the fact that these interventions are no doubt causing substantial collateral damage; non-Covid mortality, for instance.

Worldwide, plummeting mortality rates have not correlated with vaccine rollouts, meaning that hopefully there is more good news on the horizon for countries whose vaccination programmes are yet to get motoring.

But let’s not quibble. All the various criteria for opening up have been met. We must cry freedom.

Except – for some reason, we are not. And not only is international travel now also verboten, rumours abound of a plan to introduce mandatory vaccines for care home workers.

This is an abomination. If this does not ring alarm bells, then possibly nothing will. Care home workers are not necessarily in a position to choose not to work. The current crop of vaccines have been given conditional marketing authorisation, i.e. are not yet fully approved. As I have outlined previously, there are many reasons why someone in a low risk category might well wish to wait before having one of these vaccines. Choice is an essential part of democracy. 

Article 6 of the UNESCO Universal Declaration on Bioethics and Human Rights states that: “Any preventive, diagnostic and therapeutic medical intervention is only to be carried out with the prior, free and informed consent of the person concerned, based on adequate information. The consent should, where appropriate, be expressed and may be withdrawn by the person concerned at any time and for any reason without disadvantage or prejudice”.

We have not had mandatory vaccination in the UK since the 1800s, and for good reason. Mandating vaccinations for certain parts of the population is completely wrong and one of the first steps towards 21st century segregation. It will never be possible to vaccinate everyone in society, as there will always be some people who are unable to take it for totally legitimate reasons. And was that not the point of a vaccination programme, namely to protect people, not to exclude them from gainful employment?

I am as pro-vaccination as any rational being on the planet, but I am also pro-vaccination safety, as well as not wanting to create a scenario whereby coercion leads to a backlash from those that resent the imposition. There might be a glimmer of justification for such coercion if Covid-19 was running rampant in unvaccinated populations. 

But it is not. In these febrile times, let us not allow the fever to interfere with the functioning of our moral compasses.

Dr Alex Starling is an advisor to and non-executive director of various early-stage technology companies. Follow him on Twitter: @alexstarling77