If someone put a special forces military platoon on guard at every housing estate in the country in the face of an unprecedented wave of crime that had already largely dissipated, you would be right to wonder if the military units surrounding your community were really there for your protection, or for some other nefarious purpose.
In a similar way, when all the data point to the fact that Covid-19 has become, for the vast majority of people, a common cold or flu, and numerous countries are effectively declaring the end of the pandemic, you have to wonder why the European Commission is not only clinging on to its testing requirement for unvaccinated travelers, but making those requirements even more stringent than before.
England dropped almost all Covid restrictions this January, including masks and domestic vaccine passports. Denmark lifted all of its Covid restrictions at the start of February, maintaining that the virus no longer qualified as a “critical threat.” The Swedish government recently issued a press release announcing not only the end of domestic Covid testing and restrictions, but the end of all border testing for travelers from the EU and Schengen travel area, following an assessment by the Public Health Agency of Sweden “that the entry restrictions are no longer a proportionate infection control measure.” Both Norway and Finland have dropped most Covid restrictions, including border testing requirements.
Meanwhile, the European Commission is digging in and holding on to its digital Covid certificate system, which checks international travelers’ vaccination status and requires those who have not received a Covid vaccine to produce evidence of a negative Covid test, at their own expense. Not only that, but the European Commission has reduced the validity of the vaccine passport from 12 months to 9 months, on the basis that booster shots only confer immunity for up to 6 months.
If Covid is no longer perceived as a serious public health threat in Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Norway, England, or Ireland, and if most public health scientists are acknowledging that Omicron makes Covid a relatively mild and endemic virus whose active suppression is no longer tenable, then why do citizens of the European Union – or anyone, for that matter – still have to undergo Covid tests in order to cross international borders?
Here are two possible justifications the European Commission might offer for holding onto its Covid passport system in 2022:
First, they might argue that we need to prevent Covid-19 from spreading between countries, by testing travelers every time they cross international borders.
This sort of justification might have held some water in relation to a remote island community that sought to isolate itself from the rest of the world temporarily at the very start of the pandemic. But this argument is patently absurd during the endemic stage of a virus’s evolution, when it is circulating freely and spreading like wildfire until it infects a large proportion of the world’s population. You are not keeping the virus out of a country by setting up Covid tests at the border.
A second justification the European Commission might offer for maintaining a vaccine passport system is that it will keep up the pressure for citizens to get their latest Covid vaccine shot, by penalizing the unvaccinated with costly testing requirements every time they travel.
This argument is a non-starter, given the fact that pressuring citizens into receiving an experimental vaccine makes a mockery of informed consent and nullifies the Nuremberg code. But let’s try to get inside the head of someone who no longer cares about the Nuremberg code. Even from a purely utilitarian perspective, the idea of a universal vaccination requirement makes no sense at all in our current situation.
First, the vaccines are notoriously “leaky” - official testing data from the UK, Denmark, and other countries shows that the vaccinated are getting infected at equivalent or even higher rates than the unvaccinated. So putting an untested vaccinated person on a plane will not contain the spread of Covid-19.
Second, obligating citizens to vaccinate against what is essentially a common cold imposes a level of coercion, disruption and cost that is entirely disproportionate. It is now very clear from data and clinical testimony that Omicron is a far milder variant of Covid-19, and that a very large proportion of the population has already been exposed, or is about to be exposed, whether they have been vaccinated or not.
Omicron confers all the immunity you need against Covid, at least for the current flu season,and for the vast majority of people, it does not impose a high risk of severe disease. Whatever one might think of the risk-benefit ratio of a Covid vaccine in the context of the Delta variant, it is very unclear in the context of a much milder strain of the virus whether the emerging risks associated with the Covid vaccinations (including a substantially elevated risk of myocarditis for young people) are justified by their net benefits.
From an ethical perspective, no public authority has the right to impose these risks on citizens through duress. But even from a narrowly utilitarian perspective, it is very hard to see the point of pressuring the general population into taking a Covid vaccine, in the knowledge that most of them will be exposed to Covid anyway, at relatively low risk, thereby acquiring natural immunity without the inconvience and cost of vaccine mandates.
In light of these considerations, I would beg to disagree with the European Commission’s proud assertion that “the EU Digital COVID Certificate is a success story of the EU. The Certificate continues to facilitate safe travel for citizens across the European Union during these times of the pandemic.”
The imposition of systematic border testing was always a controversial move, even early in the pandemic, since it contradicted the conventional wisdom surrounding pandemic control, and was not recommended under any circumstances by the WHO’s official 2019 pandemic management guidelines.
Furthermore, there is no evidence that border controls, except perhaps in some places at the very outset of the pandemic, have significantly altered the trajectory of the virus, or had any impact on the disease burden anywhere, since the virus has continued to spread and evolve at more or less comparable rates in different countries.
The fact that the EU plans on holding onto international testing precisely at a time when the pandemic is winding down shows that their decision-makers are either scientifically incompetent or determined to coerce every vaccine-eligible citizen into receiving Covid vaccines on a regular basis, irrespective of the individual and aggregate impact of these vaccines on human health and well-being.
It certainly makes you wonder if the pharmaceutical industry, which evidently has an enormous amount to gain from an international regime that imposes punitive costs on unvaccinated travelers, has gotten a bit too close to our top EU policymakers. Especially given that the European Commission has been found guilty by the European Ombudsman of “maladministration” in its failure to disclose text message exchanges between EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and Pfizer CEO Albert Burla.
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That natural immunity is more enduring than vaccine-based immunity is now evident from the data on re-infection rates, such as the data analyzed in this landmark study
Obviously people are right when they are accusing them of wanting to use the COVID passports for something more than stopping COVID!!! Digital ID to live and work anyone?
'Experimental' doesn't mean 'we don't know if this will harm or kill you'. It means, 'the efficacy is being monitored'.