Tuesday, 2 November 2021

On vaccine mandates

Get vaxxed to protect yourself
(Above: employees pushing for mandates)
I’m vaccinated and so is my whole family. I urge people to get vaccinated. And I don’t really understand those who are “vaccine hesitant”. I believe they have a skewed assessment of risk. Reports of side effects and the short time they’ve been deployed worry them more than the real risk of illness and death from Covid. 

But should they be made to take the jab? Should there be a mandate? To protect themselves and to protect others. Early on I’d have said “yes”, based on the “protecting others” part of that equation. Doing one’s bit for society. I’d have been a simpering, unenthusiastic “yes”.

We’ve now more data and they show that with the Delta variant you can still catch the virus if you’re vaccinated and you can still pass it on. And, here’s the key point: to the same extent. Or so it seems.

The latest study by Imperial College London in The Lancet boils down to this: you transmit the coronavirus pretty much equally if you’re vaccinated as if you’re unvaccinated. If this is true then the “protect others” rationale disappears. The only persuasion left is to say “the vaccine will protect you”. Which it will — reducing illness and mortality. But should we mandate you get jabbed? Many — including Joe Biden and Boris Johnson — say yes. I say no, on the same logic that we don’t mandate people stop smoking. We try all sorts of persuasions but we don’t mandate they stop: we don’t make it illegal to smoke; nor should it be illegal to refuse the jab.

There’s another thing: folks who don’t want to vaccinated are resisting by striking or quitting. All over. So it comes down to an assessment of risk for authorities. Example: The NHS has around 1.2 million FTEs. According to a recent report one-third don’t agree with mandates. That’s close to 400,000 health professionals. It may seem weird (it is, kind of), but that’s the case. What if a mandate goes ahead and they quit or go on strike? Recalling that the vaccines, according to authoritative studies — the science — do not stop the spread any better than being unvaccinated. And for that you’ve risked increasing the already 98,000 NHS jobs that are unfilled? Quadrupling it maybe? Makes no sense. It’s not following the science.

Just as people deciding against the jabs is an incorrect assessment of relative risks, politicians are now incorrectly balancing relative risks of mandates vs loss of key workers, in the face of new evidence suggesting mandates will achieve nothing.