last week, in this column, I explored a number of questions surrounding explicit and implicit coercive pressure to receive Covid-19 Vaccinations.
I can understand the enthusiasm from some industries to open up again -in particular hospitality (but by no means exclusively) – so much so that they might advertise service provision exclusively to vaccinated patrons.
It would make no scientific sense however: None of the vaccines that are available, or are about to become available have been tested with respect to their ability to reduce transmission. They have only been tested on their ability to reduce the severity of the recipient’s reaction to a dose of the virus. So, the rationale for having the vaccination is to protect yourself, we do not know if it will protect others from you.
Notwithstanding the irrationality of excluding non-vaccinated patrons from premises, does our respect for the property rights of proprietors nevertheless extend to allowing them to exercise their right to exclude any customers, however irrational: I don’t think so. As a society we have moved beyond such an elevated view of the rights of property. For years now, equality legislation has constrained the rights of commercial undertaking from discriminating against categories of customers of whom they may disapprove. The unvaccinated should not be so excluded either.
The vaccination process is going to be a long haul until a sufficient proportion of the population has been vaccinated to afford us ‘herd immunity’. I suspect it may well take until the summer or longer. So, I do nor depart from the position that I originally took, and still urge on the Government: Namely, that the virus is not particularly dangerous to anyone outside the groups with specific vulnerabilities, so it would have been much more proportionate to have designed measures to protect them, rather than to have imposed measures on everyone with truly devastating economic and other consequences.
The statistical basis upon which the most damaging restrictions were made have always, in my opinion, been highly suspect. Now government itself has had to recognise that decisions were made on an insecure foundation. On 30 October the Office for National Statistics reported that infection had doubled between 2nd October, and 17 October -from 4.89 infected people per 10,000 to 9.52 infected people per 10,000. It was on this alarming basis that a second national lockdown was imposed upon us. Well, they have now revised that estimate of 17 Oct right back down, and that the rate never went above 6.62 people per 10,000 and that wasn’t until well into the lockdown on 12 November.