COVID-19 VACCINATION PASSPORTS?

April 12, 2021

Covid-19 vaccination passports: good idea or bad idea; something we should support or at least tolerate, or something we should fight to prevent? Good questions!

I am going to address these specific questions below, but first we need some perspective on where vaccines fit into public health in the first place.

What Is the Most Important Way to Deal with a Pandemic? It's NOT Vaccines and Treatments.

Vaccines and treatments are useful, but not nearly so useful as a robust public health system with clinics, labs and hospitals fully staffed, ready to identify infectious diseases, then test, trace and isolate to prevent the spread of the disease. Here is an excerpt from an article by Dr. Nayvin Gordon about this:

In the drive for profits, the World Bank in 1980 published a new health care sector policy advocating reducing public health infrastructure, opening the door to rampant privatization of health services, and pharmaceutical supply. http://documents1.worldbank.org/curated/en/649631468138271858/pdf/40968ocr.pdf  Treatment became primary, not public health needs and disease prevention which require a robust, well staffed national, public health infrastructure.  This profit model spread to the US and many other parts of the world.

Since the 1980’s the  US Public Health System has been neglected, defunded, and privatized under both Democratic and Republican administrations, damaging the science of Public Health and the ability to protect the people from infectious disease pandemics.  A massive public health system with clinics, labs and hospitals fully staffed, ready to identify infectious diseases, then test, trace and isolate, makes no short term profits.  For Wall Street and bankers, disease prevention is a waste of money; they have abandoned the science of public health.

Vaccines and treatments make money, and limiting hospital bed capacity keeps profits high.   For decades, pharmaceutical companies have been the most profitable corporations in the US, and Wall Street private equity firms have essentially taken control of the health care industry—pumping in $30 billion in 2018.  Major U.S. Health Insurers Report Big Profits, Benefiting From the Pandemic - The New York Times (nytimes.com)

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Enter the Covid-19 pandemic: The government is neither willing nor capable of protecting the people.   A crippled, impoverished Public Health System, deliberately neglected in favor of treatments, can no longer protect the people from preventable disease and death.  Witness the ongoing death toll, already over half a million US deaths and millions more sickened from Covid-19.  All of which could have been prevented with public health measures, to stop the spread of the virus. Strict public health science policy has successfully stopped transmission and eradicated the virus in several countries preventing many deaths.  As of 3/24/21, Taiwan has had 10 deaths, Viet Nam  35 deaths, Singapore 30 deaths,  New Zealand 35 deaths, and China with a population over one billion has had  4,851 deaths.   

In the US and many other countries, when science gets in the way of making a profit, it gets thrown out the window. Vice President Mike Pence maintained that science should not stand in the way of opening schools. https://www.commondreams.org/news/2020/07/16/science-should-not-stand-way-reopening-us-schools-says-white-house-press-secretary

Vaccines and treatments can never prevent a new pandemic. They can only protect after millions have sickened and died, as confirmed by the Covid-19 pandemic.  The British Medical Journal has labeled this as social murder. https://www.bmj.com/content/bmj/372/bmj.n314.full.pdf    Vaccines and treatment make huge profits for Wall Street at the cost of massive disease and death as the virus and its deadly variants continue to sweep through the land. Politicians are doing the opposite of what science requires, by removing  limited public health measures and “opening up the economy”, while over 100 million people have not been vaccinated.  A new wave of death and disease will keep profits high on Wall Street. 

The impending public debate about vaccine passports is thus, in this larger perspective, a distraction from the fact that the ruling class has, for greedy profit, killed the public health infrastructure that is what we REALLY need to protect ourselves from pandemics such as the Covid-19 one. The movement we need to build, regarding Covid-19, should therefore be focused far more on getting our public health system back, rather than on vaccines.

The Vaccine Passport Debate

Given this perspective, let's see what kinds of things are currently being proposed (or in some places such as New York state, already implemented) regarding Covid-19 vaccine passports, and what some of the pros and cons are. An ABCNews article, titled, "What to know about COVID-19 vaccine 'passports' and why they're controversial," is a decent place to start. I'm not going to repeat what it says here, so please give it a read if you haven't already explored this topic.

 

The jist of the article is that the federal government says it has no intention of creating a centralized vaccine passport. Some states and some private businesses and schools intend to restrict their customers/students and/or employees to those who can show they have been vaccinated, and they will allow (or are presently allowing) customers to show this by either some means of their own choice (like a paper document) or by some digital thing (like a QR code on their smart phone.)

 

As for the pros and cons, it basically comes down to these:

 

The pro argument is that limiting customers/students and employees to those who can show they have been vaccinated makes those places safer for people to go to.

 

Con argument #1 is that if some people have a harder time than others to get vaccinated then their exclusion from venues is unfair, especially so since it is poor people and non-whites who have the hardest time getting vaccinated presently. (The pro-passport argument says that this concern will vanish when the vaccine becomes readily available to everybody.) I call this the "fairness" argument.

Con argument #2 is that it is a violation of our personal liberty to have to show a document (or QR code, etc.) proving we have had an invasive medical procedure in order to patronize or work at a store or other business, or attend a college, or take a plane somewhere. I call this the "personal liberty" argument.

Con argument #3 is that what starts out as merely a vaccine passport that, by itself, may be acceptable, will likely turn into a required document with all sorts of personal medical and even perhaps social-political information (what opinions did we express on social media, who did we vote for, etc.) that can be used by "the authorities" (perhaps the federal government, perhaps a state government, perhaps a big corporation) to wrongfully monitor and control us. I call this the "camel's nose under the tent" or "slippery slope" argument.

WHERE I STAND

I believe that the SARS-CoV-2 virus is truly a dangerous one that causes the very dangerous Covid-19 disease, and that the Covid-19 vaccines offer substantial protection against Covid-19 disease and also seem (the evidence for this is still coming in) to make people less likely to get infected and less contagious if they do. I explain in great detail why I believe what I believe about the SARS-CoV-2 virus and the Covid-19 vaccines  here.

I do not think it is necessarily* unreasonable to require evidence of Covid-19 vaccination for admittance to some business or school where people are exposed to others who may be contagious for the disease when there is evidence that such vaccination reduces the probability of infection and/or reduces contagiousness of those infected. The reasoning for this is essentially the same as the (in my opinion reasonable) requirement that one have a driver's license in order to operate a motor vehicle on a public road--to make the roads safer. Whenever I drive some place I am glad we have this requirement. Aren't you? Yes, this requirement is a restriction on the personal liberty of a person who wants to operate a motor vehicle on a public road without a driver's license. So what?

 

The general public has for the most part accepted, as reasonable, the requirement that children in a public school must (except where it is medically unsafe) be vaccinated for certain diseases. My guess is that most people, like myself, likewise will find it reasonable to require Covid-19 vaccination for admittance to some businesses or schools.

The pro vaccine passport argument, in other words, seems valid to me. But that doesn't mean there is no validity to con arguments #1 and #3.

The first con argument (fairness) seems valid to me, but it will become irrelevant if and when Covid-19 vaccination is easily available to everybody. If this happens, fine. If it does not happen, then THAT is what we should be protesting against, not against the idea of vaccine passports itself.

The third con argument (camel's nose under the tent, or slippery slope) also seems valid to me. But I believe the sensible conclusion from it is not to oppose vaccine passports per se but to oppose their evolution into something different that enables the ruling class (via government or corporations) to wrongly monitor and control us. Driver's licenses also have the potential to be turned into documents that enable the ruling class to wrongly monitor and control us, and this has already happened to some extent. We should fight against this. But it does not follow that we should fight against the requirement of having a driver's license to operate a motor vehicle on a public road, right?

WHERE I DO NOT STAND

I do not stand with those who claim that the SARS-CoV-2 virus is a hoax,  that Covid-19 is really just the flu, that the Covid-19 vaccines are not really protective but are only a way for Big Pharma to make a lot of money and possibly a way for the authorities to inject evil little ("nano") devices into us. Therefore, I do not support those who oppose vaccine passports based on any of the above beliefs, which are espoused by people who call the pandemic a "scamdemic."

WHY DO SOME PEOPLE THINK THE PANDEMIC IS A 'SCAMDEMIC'?

The argument that the pandemic is a 'scamdemic' hoax goes like this:

"The ruling class (including Big Pharma, WHO, the CDC, the federal government) lies all the time to control and dominate and oppress us. So, when the ruling class says that there is a dangerous Covid-19 pandemic that requires that we do this and that to protect ourselves and our loved ones, it must not really be true; it's obviously a lie to make us do things that only benefit the rich ruing class at our expense."

This argument rests on a true premise, but does not follow logically from that premise. Here's what I mean.

The premise--that the ruling class lies all the time to control and dominate and oppress us--is true. I have written here about this in regard to how Dr. Fauci lies by omission big time for this reason. And I have written about how 9/11 was an inside job and how the ruling class lies about it, here (and in the many articles it in turn links to).

But just because the ruling class "lies all the time" doesn't mean that the truth is always the opposite of what it says. Recall Hurricane Katrina. The ruling class said it was a very dangerous naturally occurring hurricane. That was true. It would have been crazy if people in New Orleans had responded to the government's warning about the hurricane by declaring it was really a hoax, a "scamicane," right?

Another related argument for the "scamdemic" view goes like this:

"The ruling class is using the so-called pandemic to institute measures that enable it to profit at our expense and to dominate and control us; therefore the pandemic is really just a 'scamdemic.'"

Again, the premise is true. The ruling class really does use the pandemic to institute measures that enable it to profit at our expense and to dominate and control us. But this doesn't provide evidence that the pandemic is a "scamdemic" any more than the fact (yes, it is a fact) that the ruling class used Hurricane Katrina to profit at the expense of people in New Orleans provides evidence that Hurricane Katrina was just a "scamicane" hoax, right?

Here's what the 'scamdemic' folks don't grasp

The ruling class fears something very very much: It fears that revolution will be just around the corner if ever a substantial number of people in the general public not only know that the ruling class is not acting to protect the public welfare but also know that most OTHER people ALSO know this. That is when people develop the confidence to make a revolution, because they no longer feel alone in wanting to do that; they no longer feel hopeless, and are no longer politically paralyzed by that hopelessness.

Therefore, the ruling class always acts as much as it can in a manner designed to make it seem that it is concerned to protect the public welfare. Often, this means that the ruling class must do at least some things that really are somewhat protective of the public welfare, since failure to do so would be obvious evidence that it did not care about the public welfare. A dramatic example of this is that when Hitler's evil and secret euthanasia (killing "useless eaters") program was exposed to the public and the public was outraged, Hitler cancelled the euthanasia program. Of course it was indeed a good thing, not a bad thing, that Hitler cancelled that evil program. It would have been stupid if anti-Hitler people had argued that since Hitler was evil then whatever he did was evil and therefore it was an evil thing for Hitler to cancel the euthanasia program, right? Likewise, it is illogical when the "scamdemic" folks argue that everything the ruling class does to mitigate the pandemic is a bad thing, since the ruling class is evil, right?

WHAT TO DO?

If the "scamdemic" folks try to build a movement to stop the use of vaccine passports, and their movement is based (even if only implicitly) on the "scamdemic" beliefs about the pandemic that most of the public rightly rejects, the result will be just more of what we've seen so much of already: a gaggle of Qanon-er/mask-refusers claiming to be "defending our liberty," a 'movement' that the mass media will easily portray as nuts, even dangerous nuts.

On the other hand, if a movement is based on accepting the validity of the pro argument and ALSO the validity of con arguments #1 (fairness) and #3 (camel's nose under the tent, or  slippery slope) but NOT con argument #2 (personal liberty) then I think it can mobilize the vast majority of people to fight for reasonable aims, based on what the scientific evidence is about Covid-19 vaccines. This would unite the have-nots against the haves, rather than dividing the have-nots against ourselves as the "scamdemic" approach would.

But what we need most of all is a movement fighting to get our public health system back. This will require removing the rich from power to have real, not fake, democracy with no rich and no poor.

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* What is not "necessarily unreasonable" to do may still be, in light of other considerations, better if not done. Here is an argument, for example, by a physician for not having Covid-19 vaccine passports:

"The SARS-CoV-2 vaccine is different than other vaccines for which we have previously issued mandates, such as MMR (for schools) and meningococcus (for dorms). The key distinguishing feature is the efficacy of the COVID-19 vaccine in guarding against severe infection is massive. In the other cases, in order for healthy, vaccinated individuals to be protected, we must ensure a high fraction of people have been vaccinated. In this case, healthy, vaccinated individuals are overwhelmingly protected from severe outcomes, even if we fall short of high vaccination rates because the vaccine is so potent."

This is a reasonable argument (although the assertion that every Covid-19 vaccine makes people "overwhelmingly protected from severe outcomes" does not specify the definition of either "overwhelmingly" or "severe" and so reasonable people might think the risk of Covid-19 for vaccinated people is indeed high enough to justify vaccine passports, especially if evidence emerges in the future that the risk for some categories of people is substantial. Note that the clinical trials of the vaccines were not able to determine the risk in sub-groups of people with any substantial precision.) In either case, however, note that this argument is not the "personal liberty" argument that many people are using to oppose Covid-19 vaccine passports.

Just how protective the Covid-19 vaccine is in real life is a question we're only beginning to find out. On April 15, 2021 the Mercury News reported on a CDC announcement:

About 5,800 people who have been vaccinated against coronavirus have become infected anyway, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention tells CNN.

Some became seriously ill and 74 people died, the CDC said. It said 396 — 7% — of those who got infected after they were vaccinated required hospitalization.

It’s the first indication from CDC of how effective the vaccine is in real life — and the first indication the vaccines do not protect completely against severe disease and death.

“So far, about 5,800 breakthrough cases have been reported to CDC. To date, no unexpected patterns have been identified in case demographics or vaccine characteristics,” the CDC told CNN via email.