Elle Rakay is an Irish journalist and columnist known to Gript, who writes here under a pseudonym.
If a person fell from outer space, and did not know any better, they might be forgiven for suspecting there is a giant psy-ops operation underway in Ireland. After all, the narrative around the pandemic changes on a near daily basis.
Here are some of the basic narrative changes we have seen in the last year:
1. The vaccines will work 100%
2. The vaccines might not work
3. The vaccines don’t stop you from getting covid but stops you from spreading it
4. The vaccines don’t stop you from getting covid or spreading it
5. The vaccines stop you from getting hospitalized
6. The vaccines don’t stop you from getting hospitalized but you won’t die
7. You can still die if you’re vaccinated but your odds are lower
8. The unvaccinated are the problem
9. Our children are the problem
10. Herd immunity is 70% but up to 95% for things like measels
11. Herd immunity must not exist because at 95% vaccination rates we have massive covid numbers – that’s an issue with the concept of ‘herd immunity’ not one which can question the efficacy of the vaccines.
12. Travel bans are bad and racist
13. Travel bans are good not racist
14. You need to a vaccine cert to eat or drink indoors
15. Close indoor entertainment at midnight even though the vaccines work, and the only people indoors are vaccinated
16. This is a killer pandemic despite the fact that large groups of people who get the disease never know they even have it, children are virtually unaffected, survival rates even in the at-risk groups are exceptionally high and most of the deaths occur in a small segment of society who are at or above life expectancy already and over 80% of people who go into ICU with it are already immunocompromised.
A list of contradictory statements like this can, in the instance of this pandemic, go on indefinitely because the goalposts have changed so often. They worrying part? People are being told black is white, and yet they just accept it without so much as a passing curiosity as to ‘how is that possible’?
Sadly, many people would rather be happy than be right, or mentally comforted with a cuddly CMO duvet than the face the grim reality that there are real risks in the world with or without a broken health system.
This is not because ‘science’ changes. It doesn’t. Sometimes we just don’t have the answers. The issue now is not that we are following ‘the science,’ but rather that we are believing in ‘scientism’ which is a different matter entirely.
Take the idea of herd immunity, something which all of us (in particular parents of young children) natively understand when it comes to a disease like chickenpox. We have relied upon herd immunity for that disease for millennia, kids catch it, get over it and move on. Now the idea of herd immunity has been re-written to mean that you can only get it through vaccinations. That is not science, it’s scientism.
Even if the science is all correct, it doesn’t mean that traditional civil liberties can be rode over roughshod. There is nothing in science, for example, that says murder is wrong. You simply cannot prove that with science, yet it is not disputable within the field of ethics that murder is wrong.
This vital element of culpability, risk and rule is being blurred. Often, people are now comparing unvaccinated people to ‘drunk drivers’ as if the two are remotely comparable. Rhetorically, it’s a delicious comparison because it links the assumed irresponsibility (drinking and driving or in this case ‘not being vaccinated) to horrific outcomes (killing an innocent pedestrian or other drivers or in this case killing your granny or some other innocent bystander).
However, the most apt comparison must have related culpability with action and in that sense not being vaccinated doesn’t stand up because 1) many people who are not vaccinated can’t be (due to existing health issues) 2) many people who aren’t vaccinated have had the actual virus and therefore don’t require a vaccine and 3) for those who are simply ‘anti-vaxxers’ their decision (if the science is correct) puts them at the greatest risk so in a sense they will pay the ultimate price.
And yet that still isn’t enough for some people. The data shows that it’s still the elderly, immunocompromised and obese who are dying irrespective of vaccine status (unless anti-vaxxers are all elderly, immunocompromised and obese and the venn diagram has far more cross over than we are told).
What’s interesting about all of this focus on the “risk” from the unvaccinated is that people who subscribe to that view would probably not support the pre-emptive arrest of people who have many previous criminal convictions on the basis that they are likely to re-offend – even though the known statistics on this are well established.
You can’t arrest a person in advance can you? Of course you can’t – you can’t make a person culpable for something they haven’t done – which is why you can’t say a person is like a drunk driver (culpable action and outcome) when they merely omit to take a medicine.
The idea that you are ‘anti-vax’ if you don’t agree is a newer version of this, one particularly zealous Australian official Michael Gunner said that ‘if you are against mandates you’re an anti-vaxxer’
That this logical fallacy of ‘you’re either for us or against us’ has been so well debunked in the past doesn’t matter, – people crave safety and the belief in scientism and when that’s on offer logic doesn’t come into it.
Why is the media hysterical? Many of the people in the media have already had this virus themselves, many got it before there were vaccines and all of them to the very last have survived and are still working, how is it possible they catastrophize daily having had this virus and gotten over it?
Claire Byrne worked the whole way through her covid, she says in this interview she still has ‘brain fog’, who doesn’t when you have a busy job and several young kids? After my second child I had ‘baby brain’ for years.
RTE stars are particularly adept at catching covid it seems, they are also thankfully adept at getting over it as are most people.
Saying you are ‘lucky to be on the mend’ is like saying you are ‘lucky to have survived influenza’, but of course nobody ever says that kind of thing? Most people who get the flu get sick and get better. That is also true of Covid.
The one public figure who seems to have some rational foundation in this (and is also an actual doctor) is Ciara Kelly who is almost a lone voice in addressing the need to live with covid.
And of course, ironically, the one radio presenter who did famously die with something relating to covid did so due to the vaccine not the disease.
This isn’t a call to refuse or avoid vaccination, far from it. Your author is double-vaxxed and endorses the vaccination as a public health tool, but this must be done with an understanding of limitations – in the same way that seatbelts don’t prevent car crashes. What we have in Ireland, though, is a determination that people without seatbelts cause accidents. Which is nonsense.
Civil liberties were hard fought and won in the west and we should rage against their curtailment even when the reasons for taking them away can be presented in a compelling manner.
Perhaps the biggest tragedy is the death of objective reality, because we generally are conflating Covid-19 with a disease like Ebola at this point, and this must change.
When you shift the goalposts to whatever is the scariest concept on a given day, this is what happens. Just look at how we now have the idea that you can have no symptoms and still be a viral risk to people?
It’s now normalized to treat the unvaxxed or unmasked like lepers, and in some corners the people treated as such don’t seem to have an issue with that. Here, below, is Ray D’Arcy talking about going to a shop and forgetting to put on a mask. Ultimately nothing happened. Had he waited a few critical minutes longer, still nothing would have have happened – but the Irish fixation with social judgement never dies and he seems happy enough with it. As we no longer have unmarried mothers to blame for societies ills we have to find a surrogate subject matter and people without masks or shots the bill perfectly.
Now look at the ‘new variant’ news. It is literally a rinse and repeat of all previous variant news. Do you remember the UK variant was going to wipe us all out? Then it was Delta? And now it’s Omicron, so on and so forth. We’ll be told that it’s worse (when in fact the disease seems to be becoming more mild), it’s ‘more transmissable’ (even where this is true we aren’t seeing spikes in deaths and that it can ‘evade the vaccine’ in much the same way as the original covid evades the vaccine (nothing new there).
The same harbingers of doom are still being rolled out, endlessly, despite being endlessly wrong. The CMO, remember, stood over figures that we could have 400,000 cases in December. That’s as many cases in a single month as all cases from the start of 2020 until October of 2021, this is best described as ‘Leprechaun public health messaging’ (similar to the Leprechaun economics that was such a derisory term a few years ago).
Of course, being wrong doesn’t really matter, we saw the likes of Sam McConkey talk of 120,000 deaths being possible – actual figure 1/25th of that amount over two years.
Gerry Kileen, after it became apparent the disease was not killing as many as originally feared, didn’t get the memo to aim for realistic risks and said it that our 2nd wave could lead 60,000 deaths.
Again, highly inaccurate to an order of magnitude so great that any credibility should be lost and yet it isn’t, among others from his ISAG group they are still regularly brought out to foment fear and panic in the general public.
The chart below shows our rising case numbers, typically cases do go through spikes and a respiratory virus in the wintertime has observed that pattern since the beginning of mankind, but even looking at this through the lens of self-inhibition the cases can’t rise exponentially forever to give us a solid month of worst-cases scenarios every single day, rather it’s just the precursor to taking away your freedoms yet again – don’t be inconvenient by questioning this.
The good news is that life has gone on, every death is always tragic, no matter the cause but chances are you don’t know more people who died of covid than you do of anything else. Statistically speaking if you know people who died of or with covid they were already very frail, very elderly or they caught it in the hospital when they were admitted for something else.
The total deaths in Ireland in 2020 were not thousands higher than the previous year. Look it up for yourself here. In a year of so much trepidation and without a vaccine (considering 2020 versus 2019) in the year the pandemic broke, you’d expect the deaths from 2019 to dwarf 2020 and yet you’ll find they don’t. There will be deaths added on later due to how we report them, but it won’t be enough to skew the fundamental message that most people aren’t dying or at risk of death (unless you factor in the actual top killers which are raging strong as ever).
This leaves you with a fascinating and powerful choice which is: do you continue to follow the pied pipers of public messaging or start to pursue your own lived experience and make decisions based on your own volition? Your author is not saying you shouldn’t follow the public health advice because we all know that those monitoring media will be straight on with complaints, but she is saying ‘you can make your own decisions’, how you choose to react is still up to you, if you want to let your children play with other children and experience the joys and travails of their friendships and youth you can still say ‘yes’ to that even if Tony Holohan, Stephen Donnelly and Micheal Martin don’t agree.
It’s still a free country but the issue is one of perceived self-censorship. Remember, things go back to ‘normal’ if and when you decide they do. Because the hysteria is a construct.