covid sceptics

Macron’s vaccine culture war
Gavin Mortimer, Spectator, Jan 26 2022

Last Thursday French Prime Minister Jean Castex and health minister Olivier Véran held a press conference in which they outlined the timetable for a gradual easing of the country’s many Covid-19 restrictions. Véran talked of an ‘encouraging evolution’ in the fight against the virus, despite the fact that France had in the previous week recorded an average of over 300k daily cases. As of Feb 2, the wearing of masks outdoors will no longer be mandatory and a fortnight later the French will be able to experience once more the pleasure of standing at a bar with a glass of whatever takes their fancy. Since the start of this month, this practice has been outlawed. Why a customer standing in a bar is at greater risk from Covid than one who is sitting has never been adequately explained. But the inexplicable has become the commonplace in France. Why, for example, if there is an ‘encouraging evolution’ in the fifth wave of Covid sweeping across France, did the country report a record number of new cases yesterday? The figure of 501,635 is the first time that France has notched more than half a million cases in one day; in the same period Britain recorded 94,326 positive tests. A more troubling statistic released in France on Tuesday was the 30k people currently in hospital with the virus, the highest number since Nov 2020.

But the biggest question that remains unanswered is what exactly is the point of the vaccine pass, which came into force on Monday? Initially launched in July, in its original form the pass permitted the double vaccinated to visit bars, cinemas, sports venues, etc, as well as the unvaccinated who could prove they had tested negative in the last 24 hours. The new pass demands three vaccines and removes the option of a negative test. Yesterday Olivier Véran disclosed that so far 9m French people who are double-vaccinated have not yet had their third dose. They have until Feb 15 to take up that option; if they don’t their existing vaccine pass will be annulled. When asked why so many had not yet had a booster jab, Véran said:

I think that everybody has not yet understood the message.

That condescending remark is indicative of a government that increasingly is losing the confidence and support of the people. Some among those nine million may not be aware that their current pass will expire in the middle of next month if they don’t have a third jab, but a great many are conscious of the situation and have decided against another vaccination either because they don’t feel it’s necessary for them or as an act of defiance against their belligerent government. The French can be a bloody-minded lot when they want to, and Emmanuel Macron’s declaration that he wants to ‘piss off’ the unvaccinated (by which he means anyone without three jabs) had the opposite effect to the one he intended. Instead of meekly submitting to Macron’s wish, they have decided against having that third jab, just to ‘piss off’ their President. They have also now seen through the pointlessness of the vaccine pass. It has done nothing to reduce infection; on the contrary, the spread of the virus has accelerated in recent weeks, certainly compared to England, a country that more and more French look to as the exemplar in how to exit the pandemic. In an interview in front of the Senate last month Jean-François Delfraissy, the president of the Scientific Council and one of the most prominent professors throughout the pandemic, was asked for his view on the vaccine pass. he replied:

Does the pass really protect? You have the answer. The answer is no … since we can be vaccinated and still be a carrier of the virus.

So why is the pass in place? It’s a political act, part of Macron’s bid for re-election in April. Since its inception, the pass has been supported by the tranche of society crucial to Macron if he is to secure a second mandate. A poll last week revealed that 80% of over-65s are in favour, as are 69% of respondents categorised as ‘affluent.’ By contrast, only 49% of the poorest and 57% of those aged 25 to 34 approve. The young working-class are a political demographic of little consequence to Macron; but well-off senior citizens are of great significance, as they are being courted by Éric Zemmour and Valérie Pécresse. Macron said in Oct 2020, when he announced a curfew in Paris and eight other cities, just one of many measures he has taken that has proved divisive and futile:

It’s tough to be 20 in 2020.

It’s even tougher to be 22 in 2022. Macron’s political pass may well pay off in the short term but the damage it is doing to France socially, economically and morally will be felt for a long time.

German lawmakers debate making vaccines mandatory for ALL adults after politicians U-turned on earlier pledge not to force Covid jabs on anyone
Rachael Bunyan, Mail Online, Jan 26 2022

German lawmakers are today set to debate making the coronavirus vaccine mandatory for all adults after politicians backtracked on an earlier pledge not to force obligatory jabs on anyone. German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has already come out in favour of making vaccines mandatory in Germany. Lawmakers will debate in parliament on three options: obligatory vaccinations for all adults or for everyone above 50, or no mandate at all. German politicians of all stripes long insisted that there would be no vaccine mandate. But the tide turned late last year amid frustration that a large number of holdouts was hampering the fight against Covid-19. If mandatory vaccination is passed, the move would see Germany follow in the footsteps of Austria by making Covid jabs compulsory amid rising infections across Europe. It comes as Germany today reported a new record of 164k Covid infections in one day. Scholz had predicted in December that mandatory vaccination would take effect in February or early March, but that timetable has slipped, partly because of the path the Chancellor has chosen.

The government isn’t putting forward legislation itself, but leaving groups of lawmakers to come up with cross-party proposals and then allowing members of parliament to vote according to their conscience rather than along party lines. That device that has been used before to tackle ethically complicated medical questions, most recently in early 2020 to decide on rules for organ donors. On Wednesday, lawmakers are due to kick off proceedings with an ‘orientation debate.’ It isn’t yet clear when legislation will go to a vote, but it appears that it could be well into the spring before any law takes effect. Three proposals have emerged so far from lawmakers in Scholz’s three-party governing coalition. There is a call for a vaccine mandate for everyone age 18 and above, which would be valid for two years and cover a maximum three shots, with fines for holdouts. A rival proposal calls for obligatory counseling meetings for the unvaccinated, to be followed by a vaccine mandate for over-50s if progress is unsatisfactory. And one group wants to prevent any mandate. Exactly how compliance would be checked is unclear. Germany lacks a central vaccination register. Various calls for protests to take place in front of the Reichstag parliament building before and during the debate were distributed on the messaging service Telegram. Opponents of compulsory vaccination say it violates the second article of the constitution, which guarantees citizens control over their own bodies.

As of Tuesday, at least 73.5% of Germany’s population was fully vaccinated and 50.8% also had received a booster. The pace of vaccinations has slowed again after speeding up last month. But around 75% of the population has received at least one dose of a vaccine, less than in other western European countries such as France, Italy or Spain, where the equivalent figures are 80%, 83% and 86%. And the number of Covid cases in Germany is rising rapidly, with a new record of 164k Covid infections being reported on Wednesday by the Robert Koch Institute. The 166 deaths recorded on Wednesday took Germany’s cumulative COVID-19 toll to 117,126. The center-right Union bloc, the main opposition party, has insisted that the government should produce its own legislation and complained that Scholz has failed to provide leadership. Last month, the German parliament approved legislation that will require staff at hospitals and nursing homes to show that they are fully vaccinated or have recovered from COVID-19 by mid-March. Last week, neighboring Austria became the first European country to approve a vaccine mandate for all adults, which will become law on February 1 and be enforced from mid-March. Some other European countries have introduced mandates for specific professions or age groups. Greece has a mandate for over-60s and Italy for over-50s.

Anger has raged on in Europe for months over the introduction of vaccine mandates and new Covid restrictions, with weekly protests being held in countries such as Germany and Austria. At the weekend protesters, some of whom wearing ‘Unvaccinated, I’m not a lab rat’ T-shirts, gathered in Berlin to demonstrate against potential mandatory vaccination in Germany. Meanwhile regular large-scale demonstrations, some of which have drawn upwards of 40k protesters, have taken place in Austrian capital Vienna. Last week, hundreds of demonstrators marched in Paris to protest against the introduction of a new Covid pass. It restricts the lives of those who refuse to get vaccinated by banning them from domestic flights, sports events, bars, cinemas and other leisure venues. In Sweden, where vaccine certificates are required to attend indoor events with more than 50 people, some 3k demonstrators marched though central Stockholm last Saturday and assembled in a main square for a protest organized by the Frihetsrorelsen or Freedom Movement. Swedish media reported that representatives from the neo-Nazi Nordic Resistance Movement attended the action with a banner. Police closely monitor the group, which has been associated with violent behavior at demonstrations.

Meanwhile, thousands of people marched through the the Czech Republic’s capital last month Sunday to protest against compulsory Covid vaccination for certain groups and professions. The protesters gathered at Wenceslas Square in central Prague to question the effectiveness of the current vaccines and reject the vaccination of children before marching through the capital, chanting ‘Freedom, freedom.’ The previous government released an order in early December, making vaccination mandatory for the 60 and over age group, as well as medical personnel, police officers, firefighters and medical students. The order is due to take effect in March, but it still might end up being overturned. Prime Minister Andrej Babis’ administration was replaced later in December by a new government formed by five parties that won October’s parliamentary election, led by Prime Minister Petr Fiala.

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