The great unvaccinated

In the preface to his tome, the English historian and antiquarian Thomas Wright used the words that it was “a book of life among the working classes”.  He wrote that at the very least, the lower classes deserved the book’s title “The Great Unwashed” (London, 1868).

How judgemental, divisive and socially offensive this seems today.  But maybe the unvaccinated might take their place. Whether pregnant women, old or young unfortunate victims, covid is claiming lives, particularly among the great unvaccinated.

In the UK, by Christmas Eve 2021 we had just over 800 deaths from covid in a week, and 6,500 had been admitted in the previous 7 days.  Sadly, 85% of our present hospital admissions for covid are unvaccinated. This results in around 5,000-6,000 cancelled operations each month, which by any estimation is a moral scandal.

Society embraced the small pox vaccine (read the story on my blog) and it was eradicated.  It was the same for Polio. Tetanus is rare. Measles still kills and some countries will not allow children to attend primary school without the measles vaccine.  It is simply responsible living. I have watched children dying of tetanus and measles, and for me, it is incomprehensible that good vaccines are shunned.

In our area, a daughter of 40 had persuaded her parents to copy her and refuse the covid vaccine.  She got covid and passed it on to them.  Dad sadly died and she now campaigns through tears for others to take the vaccine.

I recently came across a website filled with bizarre anti-covid information.  It used the term “gene therapy” as an emotive and incorrect term for the newer types of mRNA vaccines.  Actually these mRNA vaccines pre-date covid by many years and have been in development since 1989.  They were central to the incredibly successful ebola vaccine.  They avoid use of dangerous live viruses in the lab and can be produced and altered very quickly.  And they do not alter your genes!

The website claimed freedoms were being taken away.  As a surgeon I was mandated to have a hepatitis vaccine or I could not operate.  It is about preserving the freedom of the vulnerable.  We don’t complain when we pay car insurance, because we know it protects us and others on the road.  No one calls that an infringement of liberty.

Inhaling hydrogen peroxide mist was stated as a cure.  It’s use inside contaminated wounds was widely used by us surgeons until we realised that, yes it kills bacteria and some viruses, but it irretrievably damages normal tissue, so the practice stopped.  It is easy to see, therefore, that inhaling it by nebuliser is so ill-informed and dangerous.

The direction of travel throughout mainland Europe and the UK is to show less and less tolerance to those who choose not to be vaccinated.  We started by showing some respect for people refusing the vaccine.  But subtlety, this has shifted, and society seems less accepting now. While recognising it is a person’s right to choose, when that choice curtails the freedom, health and wellbeing of others in society, I perceive that those refusing the vaccine are much less respected.

Hospital Trusts have consistently warned that the majority of hospitalised covid patients are unvaccinated, so essentially the country maybe at risk of locking down again to protect those who would not take the solution offered.  Vaccine doubters have quite a few varying concerns.  Some are just fearful of unknown health issues that might occur.  Some have been exposed to untruths and cannot shake them off.  And sadly, some are just unwilling to be told what to do.  But with around 100 million doses now administered in the UK, surely the fears and concerns fall away.

As I write in late December 2021, yes cases have increased by 48% in the past week, but admissions by only 8% and deaths by 2% at 810.  The weekly death rate is actually falling in the UK, somewhat ahead of the EU.  According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), in January 2020, influenza deaths were consistently around 850 per week, the same as our present covid weekly deaths.  But Christmas had not been disrupted that winter.  Compare that with this Christmas when the day was probably disrupted for over a million families.  Data will never exist to inform us.

We are getting to the point where it is reported that an increasing number of people are no longer worried about covid (25%), and a large number are only mildly concerned (50%).  

Are we now entering a transition phase where many people, triple vaccinated, feel that they want life to get back to normal, and that they would pay the price of a mild illness to do so?  

The great unvaccinated can’t hold up society for much longer and civil disobedience may not be far away.  Self-isolation and therefore absence from work and school has little to commend it, given the price children, those needing normal medical care and the economy will pay. The evidence is clear that this is a mild disease.

If our amazing vaccination programme cannot be seen as severing the relationship between infection and serious disease, then what did we achieve?

The scientists correctly report their predictive concerns.  But national leadership, ie our government, has a moral, ethical and courageous role to take in this pandemic.  They will never get it right all the time.  But as Churchill once said, “success is never final, failure is seldom fatal, it’s courage that counts”.  Let us pray for courageous leadership in the weeks to come.

Published by John Sloan

Husband, father, grandfather, teacher, pastor and doctor. I am a keen observer of human behaviour, and an avid follower of Jesus Christ

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