Vaccine Passes to be Abolished in Ireland
Ireland’s emergency health advisory committee, NPHET (National Public Health Emergency Team), has finally smelt the coffee, after two years of disproportionate, dangerous, and scientifically shallow policy recommendations. NPHET last night finally recommended the removal of almost all Covid restrictions and regulations, including a return to normal opening hours for hospitality and the end of the use of the vaccination pass for pubs and restaurants. However, mask mandates will remain in place, at least for the time being.
This decision was probably influenced by the overwhelming evidence that fighting Covid with non-pharmaceutical interventions is now a fool’s errand. Some factors that render NPIs patently absurd against Omicron (they were always scientifically unsupported, but now they are patently absurd):
The mounting evidence that Omicron will quickly spread to the whole population irrespective of government measures
evidence that Omicron infections have already peaked in Ireland, as they have in the UK
hospital data showing Omicron infections have proved far less virulent than previous variants of Covid
All of these factors probably influenced NPHET’s recommendation to drop most Covid measures. But there is also the political landscape to consider: Politically, the public fatigue with Covid measures is palpable, and having a neighbouring country, England, phasing out all Covid restrictions, obviously puts pressure on the Irish government and NPHET to rethink their draconian approach.
While the end of vaccine passes and lockdowns in Ireland is obviously cause for celebration, we are not quite out of the woods, for a few reasons:
First, mask mandates remain in place in Ireland, for now. The reality is that there is no compelling evidence to show that community masking worked to reduce disease incidence at any time during the pandemic. But at this stage in the game, even if you are inclined to take a gamble on mask efficacy, it is unclear what is now to be gained by masking the general population against a virus they will all be exposed to anyway.
Secondly, border testing remains in place (in Ireland’s case, for reasons that remain unclear, expensive PCR tests). Frankly, given the fact that Omicron is now spreading like wildfire across Europe, keeping any border testing in place is as silly as testing for common colds as a condition for entry. It is totally irrelevant from an epidemiological perspective, and only serves to inconvenience and punish travellers for no good reason, and bloat the profits of the testing industry.
Third, vaccine passports remain in place for international travel, even if domestic passports are being dismantled. This is simply unintelligible from a medical and scientific perspective. As I mentioned above, border testing is completely useless against an increasingly endemic virus. In addition, there is absolutely no reason to exempt the vaccinated from testing requirements, since they are infected with Omicron at equal or possibly higher levels than the unvaccinated, according to UK Health Security Agency analysis of testing data (see table below).1 Health passes for travel within Europe should be scrapped forthwith, as they serve no useful purpose.
Fourth, as recently as 16th December 2021, Ireland’s medical advisory team, NPHET, has discussed the possibility of introducing a vaccine mandate for health personnel. Thankfully, that has not yet been implemented. But the fact that it is even discussed is worrying.
Fifth, health personnel as well as employees of numerous institutions remain under severe pressure in many other countries to vaccinate, even those who take the view that their personal risk-benefit ratio is not favourable. That is an egregious violation of informed consent, and is absolutely disproportionate for a vaccine that is (a) experimental and insufficiently tested - medium and long-term risks are still unknown, and (b) ineffective at reducing transmission, as one of Israel’s leading immunologists, Professor Cyrille Cohen, has admitted (in this interview with Freddie Sayers), and as international testing data (including data from the UK Health Security Agency) confirm.
To sum up: the lifting of most Covid restrictions in Ireland, especially the vaccine pass, is wonderful news, likely to create further momentum for the international collapse of the Covid regime. But we still have some way to go before an international consensus emerges that the masking of health people serves no useful purpose. And it is imperative, as a matter of justice and common sense, that vaccine passports for international travel be dismantled right away; and that the principle of informed consent be restored in all institutional settings across the world.
So roll up your sleeves, because the fight to restore our basic liberties is far from over.
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There are admittedly some important caveats about this testing data. In particular, the tests are not randomised, so if vaccinated and unvaccinated citizens do not test in equal proportions, that could artifically inflate the number of positive test results in one these cohorts. That said, independent studies are showing that people with two doses of the Covid vaccine lose virtually all immunity against infection within three to five months. There is plenty of anecdotal corroboration of this as many of us have seen a large number of friends or entire families who are vaccinated or even double-vaccinated get sick with Covid. One explanation for the superior level of infection recorded among vaccinated citizens is that it is likely that many unvaccinated citizens have already had Covid-19, which confers superior immunity to vaccine-based immunity, as multiple studies have shown. The fact that the vaccines stop protecting against infection within a few months makes them completely unfit as instruments for breaking the chain of transmission, since it is both unsustainable and medically ill-advised to vaccinate a population every four or five months - as pointed out by the European Medicines Agency.