Updated: Jan 9
In December 2020 a petition calling on the UK government not to place restrictions on those who refuse a Covid vaccination garnered 320,000 signatures, resulting in a Parliamentary debate. This concluded with the government stating that it 'currently has no plans to introduce such measures'. Currently. So how long before the situation changes?
Tory MP, Tom Tugendhat, said he could “certainly see the day” when people are refused entry into pubs and restaurants, and may not be allowed to return to their workplace until they have had the vaccine.
This presents a number of ethical and rights-based dilemmas. Polls suggest that despite a daily diet of pro-vaccine government messaging there is still a significant degree of ‘vaccine hesitancy’, something the World Health Organisation named in 2019 as one of the top threats to global health. How much hesitancy varies worldwide, with the US, France, Germany, Italy, Sweden and Russia currently at the most hesitant end of the spectrum. Hesitancy is particularly high among ethnic minorities.
Why wouldn't people want the vaccine?
The reasons people give for rejecting a Covid vaccination vary, but despite reassurances from governments and pharmaceutical companies there are many legitimate concerns and unanswered (ignored?) questions.
A vaccine can take up to 12 years of phased development, much of this time is allocated to human trials. By comparison, Covid vaccines were approved after just a few months leading some critics to label the treatment as 'experimental', in fact many of the vaccines are officially under trial until 2023. Moreover, it's noteworthy that the companies producing these vaccines have obtained protection from civil legal actions before releasing them to market.
The right to have autonomy over what we put in our body is protected by international law. It is encompassed by the universal belief that our physical space is sacred and must not be violated. Unfortunately, what laws man makes, man can take away. Under the pandemic there are attempts to delegitimise individuals who refuse a vaccine by framing them as a threat to public health. The hyped threat from Covid is what empowers governments to override our fundamental rights.
Hesitancy presents a challenge to governments, but there is something wrong about those targets. Herd immunity has never meant 100% inoculation, this is not normal, so why can't government accept anything less? I believe it's because the vaccines are about the vaccine passports which are about building a global ID database with every man woman and child registered therein. This is why they are pushing for 100% vaccination and will push it on every age group down to the cradle.
As mass vaccinations proceed and pressure ratchets government strategies look set to get more aggressive in countering opposing narratives and concerns.
We are going to see coordinated campaigns aimed at vaccine hesitancy, vaccine conspiracies, disinformation and Covid deniers. These will be accompanied by the roll-out of technologies that will effectively ‘other’ refusers and by doing so, coerce the 'hesitant' into accepting the jab or face marginalisation.
What is othering?
Othering is a form of discrimination which together with segregation and diminished rights creates a sub-class or ‘other’. Historically this was sometimes done under the guise of ‘protection’.
The Nazis introduced ghettos due to their false theories that Jews spread diseases and therefore should be segregated to protect the rest of the population. This was in line with
their racist and eugenic beliefs.
Ghettos were initially thought of as ‘temporary’ but quickly became permanent with restrictions on who could enter or leave, when, and how often. Conditions inside
became extremely unsanitary leading to high death rates.
A vaccine apartheid: ‘Freedom’ passes and denial of service
So how does all this connect with what’s happening now?
To facilitate vaccine uptake, measures are being employed, beyond fear alone, to get individuals to comply. The foremost of these will be coercion.
Voluntary Covid tracking apps are already in use but the logical next step is for these to
be superseded with apps that track your vaccination status. Adoption of this technology will lead to a system where access and freedoms are 'granted'.
The possibility of being denied access to travel, employment, healthcare, supermarkets and even public spaces is a dystopian but real prospect.
In May last year, The World Economic Forum proposed CommonPass, a digital health ID
that tracks a user's immunity status, providing streamlined access to travel and other services that may otherwise be denied to non-vaccinated users. UK MP Jeremy Hunt supports a similar system called ‘freedom passes’ and other countries are developing their own solutions.
The idea that an individual has to win back their freedom is both chilling and abhorrent, but will be a reality under these schemes.
Understandably, ‘vaccine-tech’ is perceived as a quick-fix by the private sector, particularly the airline industry which has been a major casualty of lockdowns. Qantas Airlines chief Alan Joyce said they were reviewing their terms to insist individuals be vaccinated before boarding a flight. Korean Air, who is trialling the WEF's CommonPass system, said there’s a real possibility that airlines will eventually require all passengers to be vaccinated.
The government of Demark has also announced it's “working on a Covid-19 vaccine passport which is expected to be ready in early 2021” and many more countries are doing the same. Things are moving fast.
Despite Gloria Guevara, CEO of the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC), slamming vaccine passports as “discriminatory” it looks inevitable that some form of immunity certificate will become a necessity and not just for travel.
The technology will become central to everyday life, used to restrict interactions, realtime, where a Covid health ‘threat’ is perceived. Someone who may be perfectly healthy, symptom-free, even in possession of a negative test will be discriminated against, sans-vaccination, under these systems.
Vaccinated-only 'safe zones'
In Israel, Sheba Medical Center Chief Medical Officer Dr Eyal Zimlichman listed measures that are being planned to "manoeuvre" the population into vaccinating to regain freedom of movement by creating "safe zones".
Dr Eyal said: "You can't force the population; it won't work. What is possible is to create motivation." - or coercion more correctly.
"Whoever is vaccinated will automatically receive 'green status' and may enter 'safe zones'" Eyal says 'green status' will be required to visit "shopping malls, hotels, and restaurants."
Access to healthcare
In the UK, Covid based measures are already in place within the NHS. Patients must consent to a Covid test 3 days before admission and self-isolate. So how long before vaccination is a requirement? It’s reasonable to assume that once nationwide vaccinations are complete, access to healthcare may become conditional on vaccination. Treatment for everything other than emergency cases could be withheld.
No jab, no job
According to employment lawyers, Pinsent Mason an instruction to take a Covid vaccine could be regarded as a 'reasonable instruction' and even result in ‘fair dismissal’ if refused.
It's unlikely the government will step in to protect vaccine refuser's rights either.
The most likely scenario is that businesses will adopt this technology voluntarily in a bid to get back to 'normal' without the need for government intervention. This, as per the Israeli model, will be the outcome governments expect and hope for.
So what happens to the refusers?
Earlier this year Spain announced it was introducing a register of people who have been offered and refused a Covid vaccine. Health Minister Salvador Illa stated that the
database would be shared with other EU countries. But for what purposes are these names being stored and distributed?
[Edit: On February 24th, Israel adopted a law allowing its Health Ministry to share the names of unvaccinated individuals with local authorities.]
So are we about to see a vaccine-based apartheid?
Blacklisted refusers may find themselves a potential target for evermore oppressive restrictions. It’s possible that governments may frame refusers as obstacles to resolving the pandemic which would make them targets for public ire and 'punchbags' for mounting frustrations.
Demonisation: Covid rule-breaking and vaccine refusal equated to murder
Last year UK Health Minister Matt Hancock scolded lockdown rule-breakers, saying "don't kill granny".
If we stop to think about what this accusation means, coming from a minister, and what policy actions it might justify in the future, it's deeply unsettling. An uncertain and unprovable probability is being stated as evidential fact.
Hancock went on to mandate a maximum 10 year prison term for international travellers who falsify their Travel Locator forms. It was criticised by former Supreme Court judge Lord Sumption who noted the term was greater, in some instances, than that given to sex offenders.
Most alarmingly, an Israeli group of rabbis recently likened someone who refuses to vaccinate in the midst of an epidemic to a murderer.
This was echoed in January when a couple were detained in Barbados for trying to flee quarantine. So outraged were islanders that a petition was raised to have them jailed, stating, "If one single person dies as a result of their selfish and cowardly actions, then they should be charged with murder".
Individual rights are getting lost in fear and hysteria, resulting in a level of demonisation that is disproportionate, even unhinged. Particularly for a virus the UK government refused to classify as a 'High Consequence Infectious Disease (HCID)' and has a near-to 100% survival rate. For individual liberty though, and quite possibly one's security, the consequences could be devastating.
Warnings from history
It's difficult to find a comparable instance when modern democracies have used a health crisis to challenge fundamental rights and freedoms so completely. So what might the cumulative effects of these measures be?
The 'useless class'
When North West London GP, Dr David Lloyd was asked on Sky News what to do with vaccine refusers, his response was "put them in the bin". Whilst it may just be a glib and thoughtless remark, it reveals a gut sentiment that those who refuse a vaccine may as well be disposed of.
Vaccine refusers will fall outside of these coming systems and consequently be ostracised. Some commentators have called this group the "useless class", simply because they will be unable to fully participate in, or contribute to, society.
Language with historical echoes
During the second world war, Nazi physicians established the T4 Program with a mandate to cull lives 'unworthy of living.' Some physicians, active in the study of eugenics, saw this as 'applied biology'. However, the criteria for inclusion in the program went beyond infirmity. An important criterion was economic. Nazi officials assigned people to this program largely based on their economic productivity (or lack of it). They referred to the program’s victims as “burdensome lives” and “useless eaters.”
Post-war some of these ideas lived on. Eugenics programs existed in Sweden until as late as 1976, forcibly sterilising weak and vulnerable sections of the population deemed unfit to reproduce.
The question is, what will governments choose to do with a non-vaccinated 'useless' class who may be perceived as a health 'threat'?
If we put the rationale of 'fighting a virus' to one side for a moment, what does this look like? Are these measures reasonable? The only thing that prevents us from accepting a more worrying explanation is our innate desire to normalise what is happening, but in doing so we may be lying to ourselves.
Normalcy bias suggests people are more disposed to cling to the belief that this segregation process is justified than to consider a more dissonant alternative, for example, malevolent forces at work.
It's not difficult to imagine where this discrimination could lead. Prejudices that are enabled and formalised by the state can have terrible consequences. World governments are about to empower active discrimination, demonisation and segregation in the name of fighting a pandemic.
So is this really about a virus or is something else happening? Whatever the answer, the reality is we are tumbling into a surveillance state that will have incredible power over our daily lives and the public are being prepped to accept it as just and reasonable.
How should Christians respond?
It's saddening that much of the Church has failed to ask serious questions about the nature of the pandemic and where it is leading. It's time to test what we are being told by the media and our governments. We must be bold and ask if we are being deceived or worse still, unwittingly leading others into deception.
Alert and watchful leadership is needed more than ever. Many Christians seem unaware of the temptations and dangers such a scenario presents, but we have no excuse to be. Christ told us to be 'watchful'.
The Book of Revelation describes a final world empire that implements an identifying ‘mark’, without which individuals are not able to ‘buy and sell’. This is quickly followed by a global persecution and genocide (The Tribulation).
While I am not suggesting the vaccine is the ‘mark’, the digital systems, processes and control structures being implemented are sufficient enablers. The partitioning of humanity into an obedient vaccinated class and the 'othering' of refusers, without question, has the potential to realise its fulfilment - and soon.
The plan to vaccinate humanity and coral people into a global surveillance system, no matter under what guise, should alarm every watchful Christian.
We need to be vigilant defenders of the truth and watchful at all times. This point in history is like no other.