This is the first installment of a two-part essay on the virus and the Machine. Part two follows next week.
By writer, smallholder and aspiring beekeeper. www.paulkingsnorth.net
Perhaps it’s because I’m English, or perhaps it’s my age, or perhaps it’s just blind prejudice, but when I wake to the news that the Austrian government has interned an entire third of its national population as a ‘danger to public health’, a chill runs down my spine.
Austria, I think to myself. Ah.
I look at the news photos of armed, masked, black-clad police stopping people in the streets to ask for their digital papers, and I read stories of others arrested for leaving their own house more than the permitted once a day, and I hear Austrian politicians intoning that those who refuse to accede to the injection are to be shunned and scapegoated until they acquiesce. Then I watch interviews with ‘ordinary people’, and they say that the ‘unvaxxed’ had it coming. Some of them say that they should all be jailed, these enemies of the people. At best, the ‘anti-vaxxers’ are paranoid and misinformed. At worst they are malicious, and should be punished.
A few days later I wake up to some more news about Austria: from next year, everyone in the country will have a covid vaccine forced into them by the state, overriding their right to what certain people, who have gone very quiet recently, used to call ‘bodily autonomy.’
Then I look across the border at Germany. I see that in Germany, politicians are also considering interning the ‘vaccine hesitant’, and are currently discussing forcing vaccination upon every citizen. By the end of the winter, says Germany’s refreshingly honest health minister, Germans will be ‘vaccinated, cured or dead.’ There is apparently no fourth option.
They have been busy in Germany. Recently they put up fences in Hamburg to separate the Bad Unvaxxed from the Good Vaxxed at the Christmas markets. Outdoors. Perhaps they will also provide the Good people with rocks to throw across those fences. When I see cartoons like the one at the top of this page, which recently appeared in a mainstream German newspaper, I think that this may not be far off. Here, the man on the sofa has bought himself a first-person shooter game in which he can having fun killing unvaccinated people. It will be, says the cartoonist, ‘a big hit under the Christmas tree.’1 Ha ha ha, I think. Germany. Fences. Internment. Forced injections. Armed police. Scan your code. Kill the unvaxxed.
Ha ha ha.
I am watching all this from Ireland, the country which has the highest adult vaccination rate in Western Europe, at over 94% of the population. At the same time, curiously, we have some of the highest covid infection rates in Western Europe too. The government has not been able to explain this fact, but it is a trend that has recently manifested in some other highly-vaccinated places too: Gibraltar, Israel, West Flanders. High levels of vaccination do not seem to correspond with low-levels of disease; often quite the opposite.
In other parts of the world, strange things are happening too. Africa, for example. Africa’s population is the largest, fastest-growing and materially poorest of any continent. Few governments there can afford to supply their people with the pricey corporate vaccines which we in the West have staked our nations on. Only 6% of Africa’s population is vaccinated, and national healthcare systems barely exist in many places, yet the WHO describes the continent as ‘one of the least affected regions in the world’ by the virus. In fact, the richer, more ‘developed’ parts of the world seem to be suffering worst from the pandemic.
Nobody seems to be able to explain any of this, but that hasn’t changed the official direction of travel. Certainly in Ireland, the script remains the same. For six months we have been living with vaccine apartheid, with the ‘unvaxxed’ excluded from much of society, but it hasn’t worked. Rates of infection are shooting up as winter arrives - as you might expect with a respiratory virus. We were all told recently to work from home, and another lockdown is on the cards. A midnight curfew has recently been imposed on pubs and nightclubs. This is odd, as only vaccinated people have been allowed into them for months, and we have repeatedly been assured that vaccinated people are safe to be around.
In an honest society, all of this would have been subject to robust public debate....