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It is time to consult our collective consciences and demand the immediate cessation of all – and any – plans for the unilateral imposition of vaccine certification/passports.  Those demanding their introduction have singularly failed to produce any evidence that – despite immense associated cost as confirmed by the Department of Digital, Culture, Media & Sport – they would be of any benefit to society.  On the contrary, they will impoverish those who are unable to comply and further alienate those who are already distrustful of government diktat.    

Reaction has previously covered this in the context of mandating vaccination for care home workers – a deeply unethical decision, especially when the UK government’s own data shows that Covid rates are higher in the vaccinated.  Vaccinated people typically have higher viral loads, potentially making them more infectious.  We also now have the first admissions from the government that “N antibody levels appear to be lower in people who acquire infection following two doses of vaccination” – hopefully this is merely an outlier data point rather than an early sign of vaccine-induced original antigenic sin, otherwise we may be in line for a winter not just of discontent, but also of wailing and gnashing of teeth.  On top of all this, the evidence is increasingly compelling that – as expected – natural immunity is superior to vaccine-induced immunity.

How, then, can a “stick and carrot” approach be acceptable in a free society to coerce individuals to undergo a medical procedure that they might wish to weigh up dispassionately prior to giving informed consent?  After all, there is no “try before you buy” option.  And at what point did an adult vaccine to protect the vulnerable morph into a mandated subscription to a twice-yearly booster shot, against the better judgement of the former director and deputy director of the Office of Vaccine Research and Review at the FDA, who resigned in protest and published this letter in The Lancet denouncing the decision?

This is not the backdrop that justifies a headlong rush to Jim Crow laws to demote the unvaccinated – the Great Unwashed – into a second tier of society.  As The Spectator puts it bluntly: “Will Javid really fire 106,000 NHS workers?”.  These workers – by no means all front-line workers, but many will be – are no doubt fully aware of the risks and capable of making up their own minds.  Escalating the question – should society stand by while its government not only invites these front line workers to leave their jobs, putting the NHS under even greater pressure in the process, but then also exclude them from society by putting arbitrary limits on who they can socialise with, and what social events they may attend?

One should not dismiss these concerns as shrill exaggerations. The Prime Minister of New Zealand is openly agreeing that her policies will create two classes of people.  It took a group of Polish politicians to publicly call out developments in Australia as totalitarian – why are others silent?  In Australia, vaccinated people are free to spread disease, yet immune non-vaccinated are still subject to draconian restrictions – and those that protest are being shot with rubber bullets, tear-gassed and brutally beaten by riot police.  On the pretext of “prevent(ing) rising coronavirus cases from overwhelming the healthcare system and to protect people who cannot get vaccinated”, Lithuania introduced ruthless segregation in September.  Perhaps someone can explain to me how the trajectory of their autumnal epidemic varies from neighbouring Latvia or Estonia, or even very much unvaccinated Romania.

It is then all the more extraordinary to hear Hillary Clinton interviewed by Andrew Marr at the weekend, calling for the Prime Minister to “implement draconian rules and sanctions around vaccine uptake” and that he “he does need to mandate vaccines”.  Forgive me, but what has this got to do with Clinton?  Is this about people’s health, or a crude attempt to keep the UK toeing the line, lest it become obvious that draconian policies are not necessary?  After all, if the UK joined the Nordics in successfully rescinding Coronavirus restrictions, it would be harder for the health junta to ignore.

I am well aware of Godwin’s Law, but given 20th century historical precedent, surely we should be hugely wary of restrictions that are introduced on the pretext of “keeping everyone safe”?  Especially if this segregation is imposed by emergency legislation without full debate and a vote in the House of Commons?  Speaking of which, the verdict of the House of Commons Constitutional Affairs Committee is unequivocal on the matter – non, Monseigneur Johnson.  

Given the role that vaccine passports play in the enforcement of vaccine mandates – coercion by another name – we should steer well clear of them.  One only has to look at the righteous passion being roused amongst communities that have previously been subjected to segregation, e.g. Floyd Mayweather’s recent vocal support for Kyrie Irving, a basketballer who is currently barred from playing due to his vaccination status.  These wealthy individuals are able to stand up for what they believe in – but what of those who cannot afford to take a stand?  The hardest hit by segregation are the poorest.

We live in a reality that seems to have consistently undershot the direst predictions of the doomsday modellers.  Given that backdrop, we should step back from the brink.  The country should choose to face future challenges together and reject calls for a segregated society.  For therein lies a path to ruin: the minority that are cautious and doubtful would – at a stroke – find justification for their concern, and might well dig in for the long term.  Trust in healthcare services would be severely dented.  And everyone would lose, not least economically.  

Vaccine passports – alongside their ugly sibling, vaccine mandates – are harmful, divisive and totally contradictory.  They should be scrapped.  The authorities should try to win the argument, not resort to the tactics of petty tyrants.  

Dr Alex Starling (@alexstarling77) is an advisor to and non-executive director of various early-stage technology companies.