Strange Bedfellows

For someone who has been pretty conventional until quite recently, I now find myself a fellow in arms with a gloriously eclectic tribe, some of whose only common point of reference is believing that liberty matters and being willing to stand up and be counted.

My new-found comrades hold some beliefs which – not to put too fine a point on it – I consider batshit crazy. My heart sinks and I internally plead ‘nooooooo, please don’t say what I think you are going to say’ as someone expounds earnestly about nanobots contained in facemasks, or international rings of pedophiles, or 5G, or World Economic Forum Great Resetting, plandemics, Climate Change engineering etc. while I gloomily picture any credibility the cause of liberty may have with undecided bystanders swirling down the plughole of reason.

But what do I know? And that’s not a rhetorical question. Faced with the events of the past 14 months, nothing makes sense anymore. Viruses gonna virus – even the man-made ones – but what is jaw-droppingly incredible, unbelievable, inconceivable, is our response to this particular one. We have committed hara-kiri on our economy, we have abandoned our old and screwed over our young, and we are now on the verge of risking the health – the lives – of children in our psychotic pursuit of some nebulous notion of safety.

I have listened to many theories about why we are doing this. No, we won’t know the full extent of the involvement of the Gates Foundation until decades to come (if then) – although I do confess to surprise at learning how much it donates (£780 million in the UK alone) to many governmental organisations I had previously assumed to be entirely independent, impartial and funded solely through taxes. No, we won’t know the extent of China’s involvement in the origins of the coronavirus outbreak for years (if then) – but I defy you to read this article and not conclude that at the very least the theory of a lab escape cannot be ruled out. No, we won’t know whose chums have made how much money out of government contracts, or whether the ‘Build Back Better’ slogan that has crossed the lips of the world’s leaders was ever part of some Davos-hatched masterplan. 5G? Jeffrey Epstein? Give me a break.

My fear is that, whether by evil design or by inane and well-meaning complacency, the destination to which we might be sleepwalking is mandatory domestic digital ID in order to access the basic building blocks of our lives, including education, healthcare, work, hospitality, travel and entertainment.

It doesn’t even have to become continuous social credit monitoring (see here 4 minute video and here 18 minute video to see the extent to which China currently uses the technology) for it to become utterly inimical to any sort of free democratic society.

I don’t think this was the case from the start, as we collectively scrambled about in the genuine horror of facing an unknown virus of deadly effect (and whatever you think of Dominic Cummings, his evidence in May 2021 reveals the utter shambles, incompetence and infighting within the government), but the widespread terror and unexpected utter capitulation of our entire society, giving up all our historic freedoms and rights without a whimper of protest, did make this a priceless opportunity.  This was truly an exceptional crisis, such a shame if it were to go to waste. Repeated attempts made in the recent past to introduce official ID to Britain have been robustly repulsed, but perhaps this is the opportune moment?

Although I am known in my family as a technopygmy, I recognise the phenomenal power of good that our data processing capabilities can unlock.  Big data runs our world, and makes possible connections and functions that we could not have dreamed of even ten years ago.  As a punter, I value what technology allows me to do, and I can’t begin to imagine its power scaled up to an industrial or societal scale (and if you haven’t already watched Netflix’s The Social Dilemma, watch it now – the trailer is here).

We are a contrary and recalcitrant species, prone to destructive and self-destructive behaviours, and if I were in charge – and if I perhaps believed that humanity was on course for a man-made climate change catastrophe, or hell, if I were just insatiably power-hungry – I might be tempted to use the immense power of the technology we now have in order to control the behaviour of society. For the greater good, you understand. What more effective control could one wish for than a digital ID pass that granted the bearer access to activities, products and services conditional on their medical compliance?  Seriously, just think of the good one could do: one could reward non-smoking, non-drinking, those who complete 10,000 steps a day, exercise classes in front of the telescreen – Oh sorry do you not like that? Did I list your vice?

I have racked my brains to account for why else we still continue to react in this insanely disproportionate way in response to a virus that 99.6% of us survive, and for which the average age of death is 82 years old.

None of my friends who are medics are particularly complimentary about former Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt, who last month in parliament (you’ll need Twitter, sorry), suggested to Nadhim Zahawi that we piggyback on US FDA mechanisms to approve the rolling out of the vaccine to 12 year olds, “in order not to put at risk the return of schools in September”. As well as being a despicable attempt to capitalise on parents’ desperation for their children to receive an education, this is ethically unconscionable, for many reasons, most notably:

  • Children are at less risk from Covid than they are from the Flu.
  • A total of 36 children under the age of 19 died with Covid between March 2020 and March 2021, compared to 88,388 of over 80 year olds (ONS).
  • All the vulnerable in the UK – those to whom these children might hypothetically transmit Covid – have already been protected by the vaccine
  • All of the vaccinations are being rolled out worldwide SOLELY under emergency powers. This means the long-term monitoring has not concluded (this won’t happen until 2023), and we have no idea of what the long term effects of the various vaccinations might be, or even a proper handle on immediate side-effects, & it is emerging that some of them might be severe. Maybe it’s just bad luck or coincidence – and I genuinely mean that – but the point is we just don’t know that yet. We may well judge that the protection the vaccines confer against Covid are worth the risk for those in the higher risk categories, but to push for healthy children – whose risk (calculate yours here) of dying from Covid is less than 0.0003% is morally reprehensible.
  • The trial on which the Pfizer approval was granted was carried out on just over 2000 children, of which half received the injection and half the placebo. So we are basing our approval to roll out this wholly unnecessary treatment on an effective study size of 1000 children. The trial might have picked up the super common adverse reactions – those that happen in 1 in 500-1000 cases, but it’s not going to pick up on anything less common that that. 1 in 10,000, nope, 1 in 100,000, forget it, 1 in 1,000,000, don’t be stupid.  There are 13 million under 18s in the UK – how many hundreds or thousands of life-changing adverse effects to teenagers are OK, how many teenage deaths are we prepared to accept?

Looks like we might find out sooner than I thought. Last week the UK’s medicine regulator approved use of the Pfizer Bion-Tech treatment to 12-15 year olds, and the Scottish Government today announced that – if the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunization grants approval – it will ‘start to vaccinate children between 12 and 15 as quickly as possible’.

What possible justification on God’s earth is there to vaccinate healthy children and young people against a virus that poses them no statistically significant risk? In health terms, in moral terms, there is none.

Again, maybe if you believe that it is a necessary part of what will be a transformative innovation that will benefit all of humanity? (I can’t escape that this is the weakest part of this blog. I keep circling and getting stuck on the violation of medical ethics that vaccinating children represents.) Maybe if you are rolling out digital ID based on the purported need to prove current vaccination status (oh, did you think you were just going to have the two and that would be it? Bless), then you can’t have an unruly cohort approaching adulthood who have not been required to take the vaccination and who therefore do not need to carry something on them at all times to prove it?

No, I still can’t do it. Twist as I might, I still cannot come up with a convincing reason to give any Covid-19 injection to children.

But enough of these paranoid imaginings. Let’s turn back with relief to the real world.

In other news, the new, updated NHS England App came out in mid-May to a rapturous reception in many quarters – not only your vaccination status but your full medical history and your past and repeat prescriptions available on the one app! Really convenient, amazing use of data. And actually I do think it’s a great idea, I can see how it would be phenomenally useful – life saving even. It’s just that I have no faith whatsoever that the government can make it hacker-proof, and the risks of such sensitive data being in the wrong hands are in my opinion not worth it.

Scrutiny of the settings however revealed some perplexing items under ‘Special Category Data’ (image with blue header). As well as categories for physical or mental health, there were categories relating to the family of the individual and the individual’s lifestyle and social circumstances; information relating to the genetic or biometric identification of the individual; and – leaving the best til last – information regarding criminal convictions or alleged criminal behaviour.

A justified furore erupted on social and mainstream media, and the app was swiftly updated with the offending categories removed (image with black header). It was apparently merely ‘a bizarre mention of irrelevant sensitive data’. Perhaps you feel reassured. I’m not sure I do.

 

There, that’s it, that’s my batshit theory, in all its muddled ignorance. I would give a great deal to be mercilessly mocked for this by my friends, over raucous dinners some ten years hence. I really really hope I’m completely wrong, picking up shards of information and creating a nightmare mosaic of my very own – and, seeing as Israel, one of harshest imposers of vaccine passports, announced it was scrapping all restrictions and vaccine passports themselves, maybe I am.  I pray that I am. I can’t help feeling that as a society we are at a crossroads, and the choices we make now and in the immediate weeks to come will lead to radically different destinations.

In the meantime, I’ll just hop back into bed with my weirdos. Still, could be worse. Could be raining.

 

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