On the very day President Joe Biden delivered a three-hour speech last week repeatedly encouraging all Americans to continue to wear masks and “get vaccinated please, and get your booster,” the United Kingdom’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson told parliament members “mandatory certification” of vaccination will end as of this week. The gap between the two nations at the nexus of the Anglosphere could not have been starker yet reflect a broader and deeper set of divisions possibly indicative of the casualty spawned by the attack on scientific truth in the age of COVID-19.
Global COVID Policies Sharply Diverge
It is a widening gap, with some governments such as Austria, Australia and the United States redoubling their efforts to enforce vaccine requirements with increasing severity even as others, like the United Kingdom, Israel and Spain reconsidering mandate policies given the unfolding scientific and medical data.
Biden’s intense focus on vaccination, core to the underlying premise that universal vaccination represents a fundamental step toward SARS-CoV-2 pathogen eradication, was also undermined last week by the second of two major blows against his sweeping mandate orders by federal courts. Less than a week after the Supreme Court ruled against his September 2020 order requiring private businesses with more than 100 employees to enforce mandates, a federal judge in Texas blocked a similar requirement for all federal employees.
Zero-COVID Policies & Universal Vaccination Vs. Endemic Realities
These contradictory trends are being driven, in large part, by the onset of the Omicron variant, which has exposed the futility of both “zero-COVID” policies (e.g., the trend to attempt to block out SARS-CoV-2 from entrance into a country in the first place–such as applied in China and even Australia) and universal vaccination (the brilliant sounding but hubris-driven scheme that one batch of novel vaccines could entirely eradicate a highly volatile, novel virus around the world in a matter of a year or so) to the inevitability of COVID’s endemicity.Subscribe to the Trialsitenews “Coronavirus” ChannelNo spam – we promise
Governments are taking contradictory policy positions against a backdrop of data showing record high case rates and suggesting negative efficacy among some of the world’s most vaccinated nations. As cases subside in societies previously hard-hit by Omicron, data are also showing extremely resilient natural immunity. While countries like China can boast about far less infections than the West, the unsustainable costs associated with regime’s zero tolerance schemes were partially exposed when the government there had to also embrace the universal vaccination stratagem starting in the summer of 2021. As it turns out despite huge trade surpluses and rapidly growing economic muscle their public finance coffers also must ultimately account to the law of economics.
Moving forward countervailing forces intensify the debate over vaccine mandates, morphing from one focused on interpretations of medical evidence and specific public health approaches to broader debates about global governance and individual liberty. Additionally, an underlying mass plebeian current drives a demand for normalcy. Society-wide buy-in, key for any sustainable long-term public health program weakens when the crowd smells slick, Madison Avenue-inspired spin originating from the confluence of big government, industry and health systems–backed intellectually by some prominent key opinion leaders in the academic ivory tower and of course for unified positioning and messaging, the spin masters from the heavily consolidated corporate media.
As Old COVID Narratives Fade New Debates Come to the Fore
Thus, these broader debates, marginalized until now, emerge as nation-states’ policy positions coalesce the stakes of these divergent positions, becoming clearer to more people, despite distortion.
Despite the demise of zero-COVID as a practical matter (e.g., started by China and its heavy investment to keep out the pathogen using every authoritarian tool at its’ government’s disposal), as well as the universal vaccination program promulgated accepted by most developed nation-states while championed by the World Health Organization (WHO) for execution in the low-and middle-income countries, many governments continue to leverage those earlier tropes for their policies.
But as societies take different paths away from “flattening-the-curve,” masking, shutdowns, vaccinating for “herd immunity,” vaccinating to “spare neighbors” and “to save grandparents,” or perhaps as in the case of China to keep the virus out to “outlast the competition” more essential arguments will have an opportunity to move to the fore of global discourse.
In a world where bordering states and nations have similar COVID infection and fatality rates, yet wildly different public health policies, the only way to bridge the gap is to address the planet’s fundamental divisions over transparency, governance and liberties necessary for vibrant economies and civil societies. That debate is overdue.