With the surge of COVID winter wave in the Northern hemisphere, the pressure on the unvaccinated to get the shots are getting more aggressive and their daily lives also become much tougher. In Germany, so-called 2G (“Geimpft” and “Genesen”) rule is applied in many places which means that only vaccinated and recovered (within six months) are allowed to participate in everyday life like going to restaurants, bars, theaters and so on.
In some settings, 3G (“Getestet”,”Geimpft” and “Genesen”) rule is allowed with an additional option of getting tested every day. It is now necessary to go to the workplaces, use public transportation, even to see the doctors and donate blood.
I am a regular blood donor and I needed to get tested last time before donating. Since the beginning of the pandemic, there has been a shortage of blood for those who need it urgently. What I observed during my donation last time is that the number of donors dropped drastically. With this additional rule, many unvaccinated donors have difficulties giving their blood now.
For example, some of them live in the small villages and the test centers are not nearby which means it takes them a lot more time than usual. Being unable to use public transport without the negative test, they also need other means of transport. Moreover, some of them feel discriminated against since we now know that the vaccinated can still transmit the virus even though they are very much likely protected from the severe disease and death. Amid the blood shortage, this rule could make the situation even worse.
Since I still decide not to get vaccinated, many people might call me anti-vaxxer. I may be one according to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary which defines an anti-vaxxer as a person who opposes the use of vaccines or regulations mandating vaccination. I strongly oppose the vaccine mandates.
My position on COVID vaccines is very clear. I strongly urge the elderly and vulnerable who have not yet been infected with COVID to get vaccinated as soon as possible. It is very important for them. It can save their lives. However,the young and healthy, especially the children, do not need these vaccines. There are millions of older high-risk people who still do not have access to the vaccines in many developing countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America.
In my home country, Myanmar, COVID third wave hit like a tsunami. Many old and vulnerable died during that wave including my beloved aunt, the parents and relatives of my friends. My father also had to struggle very hard to survive with the constant oxygen supply for a few days. The vaccination drive was interrupted before that wave because of the political situation there. During the peak, the severe patients were not able to be admitted into the hospital. They had to manage by themselves to get the oxygen supply.
As I have seen and heard such a tragedy in my home country, I am even more hesitant to get the jab ahead of those vulnerable in poor countries who need the vaccines desperately. As a 32-year-old with no underlying health conditions, my risk is very much smaller than those vulnerable. For me, getting the jab ahead of them is just morally wrong, especially in the case that the vaccines cannot stop the transmission of the virus.
My life will be much easier getting the jab in Germany but my heart keeps saying that I should not take it from my ethical and moral standpoint. Perhaps, I will have no choice left in the near future if the governments introduce the general vaccine mandate for COVID. However, I think the western governments should donate these vaccines and support more to the poorer nations instead of vaccinating the children and mandating the vaccines for those who dot not need them.
Moreover, we all must acknowledge the power of natural immunity which is much more robust and longer lasting. It does not mean that we all should get infected deliberately but the recovered or immune people should be appreciated as they are the key to maintain the herd immunity in the community to end this pandemic.
Prof. Sunetra Gupta, a world-renowned epidemiologist at the University of Oxford, once discussed before that the COVID vaccines cannot protect you durably against infection (therefore cannot prevent transmission) and hence cannot give herd immunity. With this fact, the vaccine mandates are totally illogical. However, it is really fantastic that they can reduce the severity of the disease dramatically, therefore also the deaths.
She also mentioned that, from the ecology of the coronaviruses, the repeated reinfection is a key to maintain the herd immunity or the endemic equilibrium. These reinfections do not cause severe diseases and deaths. If we have some knowledge on the mathematical models of infectious diseases (SIRS Model in this case), this concept is much easier to understand. From these facts, I understand that the vaccines will not end the pandemic.
However, they can be the crucial tools to save many vulnerable lives over the remaining course of the pandemic. The key is the focused protection of the vulnerable along the journey to the endemic equilibrium as the authors of the Great Barrington Declaration advocate. I sincerely thank these authors, Profs. Martin Kulldorff, Sunetra Gupta and Jay Bhattacharya, for opening my eyes in this pandemic and also for your works to fight against the insanity amid horrible abuses.