The Anti-Vaxxers have not had this much fun in years
With the Third Wave of a Covid variant amongst us, and a Fourth Wave variant looming, we are beginning to accept that this coronavirus 19 is likely to be with us forever. The only hope we have to mitigate the effects, according to most scientists, is a vaccine.
Viral infections are not new, they have been around for centuries. But they mutate all the time in order to infect their hosts effectively, which is why sensible people get a flu jab every year. The flu jab innoculates the person against the most common recent flu variants, and builds up resistance in that person so that if they catch a new strain of flu they will have a better chance of fighting it off.
Every so often a new variant pops up that is more infectious or more deadly. For decades scientists had been warning that we would soon be overdue for a massive and deadly epidemic. The Spanish Flu of 1918 was our last global conflagration, when a world wearied by war was hit by a virulent new flu strain.
So when a new, infectious, deadly Coronavirus surfaced in China in 2019, it looked as if – right on schedule – it was going to be tickets for the human race. But scientists have been here before, and they were able to rush into researching a vaccine. Just like previous vaccines, this vaccine might or might not protect you from a new variant, but it will build up your resistance to fight off the worst symptoms and will inhibit your ability to pass the virus on. Even if that is the only thing the vaccine can do, it is worth it. If it does nothing more than keep people out of hospital and allow them to recover at home, it is worth it.
But the Anti-Vaxxers are not having any of it. A busy cottage industry has sprung up, spread on social media, consisting of dire warning posters, videos with self-described scientists and doctors, and scholarly-looking articles. All of them, without exception, are false news. And this is how you can tell.
“A lie can run round the world before the truth can get its boots on” – Mark Twain
Every single one of these posts contains at least one verifiably untrue ‘fact’. An often-repeated ‘fact’, with variations, is that ‘there is no such thing as COVID’. This can be disproved by the most superficial online search that will reveal scores of reports from researchers around the world who have identified the virus and unpacked its genome sequence. Almost uniquely in scientific consensus, they agree on this.
Another ‘fact’ that is trotted out, is that ‘millions of people’ have died from the vaccine. Astonishingly, not one single journalist anywhere in the world has noticed this.
There have been reports of side-effects in vulnerable people; there have been a number of deaths of vaccinated people which have been investigated and found largely to be unrelated to the vaccine. A detailed search on the internet turned up the fact that, out of 5,2 billion people who have been vaccinated to date, 44 are believed to have died directly as a result of an adverse reaction to the vaccine.
That is tragic, it is horrible: but it must also be weighed against the fact that the virus has killed almost 2,5 million people (and commentators describe this as being an under-estimate). It is difficult to prove a negative, but researchers in the US estimate that vaccinations saved almost 300 000 lives and prevented 1,25 million hospitalisations in that country alone.
Another often-asserted ‘statement’ is that the virus was a bio-weapon or a manufactured disease. Well, so what? Where it came from is not the issue right now. The issue is that people must defend themselves. When a house is burning the firefighters do not go into a huddle to discuss the cause of the fire, they work to put it out. The time will come later for the arson investigators to find the cause.
A side-issue is the belief that masks and hand-sanitation do not work to prevent the spread of the virus. This is such a ridiculous belief that it is hard to understand how stubbornly anti-vaxxers cling to it. Masks and hand-sanitation as an effective measure to prevent the spread of any disease dates back to Hungarian doctor Ignaz Semmelweis in 1847. It was hugely controversial at the time (y’see, there were bullheaded boneheads even back then), and Semmelweis died in disgrace, but his recommendation has now become accepted medical wisdom.
An oft-repeated mantra is that the vaccine does not completely prevent you from getting sick. This is true. However, it diminishes the chances that you will die. And it makes you less infectious. The vaccine is free and the vaccination process is relatively efficient. Where is the downside here?
Most of the anti-vaxx campaigners use the three ‘facts’ above, with variations and combinations. And most of their elaborate warnings rely entirely on a bedrock kernel of truth that is distorted or uncontextualised.
However, if anyone tries to point this out, the true conspiracy theory emerges – which is a concatenation of the three major factoids above. The vaccination, they claim, is a planned and targeted attempt at global mind control. The virus was invented to make us sick. Then the pre-prepared vaccine was announced to a frightened and malleable population. The vaccine plants tiny transmitters in our bodies that will be activated at a pre-determined signal. Most of us – the useless ones – will die. And then some secret global organisation will take over the minds of those worth keeping.
I have one piece of advice for the people who believe, and spread, this story. THINK. Just think. Think about the following:
Why bother to invent a headline-catching new disease that we would need to be vaccinated against, when we already have a suite of nicely tailor-made existing diseases against which we are already being vaccinated? Measles, smallpox, polio. The polio vaccine would have been perfect for this purpose. It is a standard vaccine in every country in the world. Just slip your mind-control microchip into one of these and voila! those ever-vigilant conspiracy theorists would not suspect a thing.
And if anyone is worried about mind-control…. the bad news is that our minds are already being controlled. The shadowy organisations that are controlling us are called Facebook, Twitter, Google and Whatsapp. We are already being manipulated into buying things that we don’t need, and doing things that are possibly harmful to us. It’s called marketing.
Anti-vaxxers will point out that the wealth of information online that disputes their theories is part of a deliberate global campaign to suppress the truth and present unified lies. To take this to its logical conclusion, it means that every single health professional, scientist, researcher, spokesperson and journalist in the whole world gets together on a regular basis (probably via Zoom) in order to get their stories straight.
Juggling their diaries must be a nightmare, as anyone who runs a flower-arranging club would testify. Not to mention the confusion over language. Just keeping everyone abreast of the latest lies to publish or truths to suppress would require an organisational and logistic feat unparelled in human history, and every single PR firm in the world would love to know how it’s done.
Another thing the anti-vaxxers depend on, is impressive-sounding statistics and facts to back up what they say – but they don’t name their sources. And the most desultory information search will find that there are few, or no, other records of these ‘facts’.
Nowadays, the internet – despite its algorithmic shortcomings – is a substantial weapon to find the truth of almost anything. There is no excuse for people who spread information aimed at scaring other people, without doing the most elemental overview first. The basics of fact-checking are simple: how many other different people are saying the same thing? How credible are these people? Are they coming up with their own facts, or simply repeating them? Are they stating facts that are demonstrably true? Is the language vague and alarming? Do their allegations make sense? If a video, article or post has just ONE untrue statement, it is reasonable to believe that there are others.
The Final Question:
But finally – and most importantly: WHY? Why on earth would any organisation go to such lengths to control a teeming mass of humanity, most of whom are more trouble than they are worth? There are easier ways to make money – ask Jeff Bezos, Bernaud Arnault, Elon Musk, Nassif Sawaris, Prince George and Lakshmi Mittal. There are easier ways to get people to do what you want: just ask Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates, Vladimir Putin, Charli D’Amelio, PewDiePie and Meghan Markle.
Bottom line: anyone with enough money and influence to pull off such a vast project in absolute secrecy almost certainly already has all the money and influence they need. So what would be the point?
If one looks at this crazy mess that makes up our human race, and the baffling dynamics of even the most close-knit family, and the politicking and power-struggles that bedevil even the most obedient book club, the conclusion that one can reach about a global Covid mind-control nutjob is the same that one can reach about the story of the talking dog: the wonder is not that it is being done well, but it is that it is being done at all.
Disclosure: the author, in debunking the most popular conspiracy theories, has no brief to defend Bill Gates or the 5G industry: ‘I believe that the one is unprincipled, greedy, monopolistic, manipulative, dishonest and hypocritical and the other is a software billionaire.’
The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own. The facts stated are (hopefully) confirmed by the links to other articles. To see more of this writer’s work, visit The Safrea Chronicle and MediaHub