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BEN SCALLAN: Leo Varadkar & the never-ending booster rollout

Now I know what you’re thinking, and yes, that headline does sound like a crap new spin-off book in the Harry Potter series. But please, hear me out.

Several weeks ago, Tánaiste Leo Varadkar made a bombshell announcement which got almost no media coverage at the time. It should have been front page news across every major outlet, but instead it went virtually ignored.

He effectively announced that Ireland’s official number of fully-vaccinated individuals is wrong.
For a long time now, government politicians have been boasting that a large portion of Ireland’s population – around 94% – are fully-vaccinated. Leo explicitly told CNN as much just last month.

However, shortly before that interview, Varadkar had just announced that he believed the Covid jab was a “three-course vaccine.”

“It does appear now that this vaccine is going to have to be a three course vaccine,” he said, “and we’ll need to extend the third dose to many more people, perhaps everyone.”

He also noted that vaccine immunity is waning even in double-jabbed people.

Varadkar later added that people should stop calling extra doses a “booster,” because this implies that they are “discretionary.” He said that the vaccine is instead in three courses.

What this effectively means is that 94% of Ireland’s eligible population is not, in fact, fully-jabbed, and won’t be until they receive their third dose. In short, all of those people who complied with the first two doses have had their fully-jabbed status unceremoniously revoked.

Now, this would be a big enough story on its own. But within weeks of saying this, Varadkar went a step further, saying that even a third dose might not be enough, and a fourth may be required.

As reported in the Independent yesterday:

“People may need to get a fourth dose of vaccine to protect themselves against Covid-19, Tánaiste Leo Varadkar has warned.

As the roll-out of boosters will be extended to the over-50s from tomorrow, Mr Varadkar told the Dáil today that evidence from Israel shows immunity wanes after a third dose and a fourth dose may yet be needed.”

Again, bear in mind, these comments were made less than a month apart. We went from “fully-jabbed” meaning someone who has had two doses, to three doses, to four doses in the space of around 3 weeks. At this rate, I wouldn’t be surprised if it was forty four doses by the end of the year.

The Tánaiste added that people may have to have the jab annually as a “seasonal matter,” “like we have with the flu.”

The reasoning given is that the third jab is to protect against Delta, while the fourth jab will be used to protect against the Omicron variant.

Now, there’s a lot to process here, but first and foremost it has to be pointed out that the Omicron variant has killed literally zero people on earth so far since its discovery according to the World Health Organisation.

I don’t mean “it’s killed very few people.” I don’t mean “it’s killed less than other variants.” I mean it’s killed literally nobody, anywhere on planet earth, to the best of our knowledge. Not one person.

Moreover, the CEO of a major South African hospital group (where the variant was first detected) says symptoms in Omicron are “far milder” than during any of the previous Covid waves.

With that in mind, why would another dose of vaccine protection even be necessary? Protection from what exactly? The whole purpose of the vaccine is to prevent serious illness or hospitalisation. It sounds like aul’ Mother Nature already has this one covered – there’s absolutely no need to pay billions in taxpayer money for Pfizer or Moderna to jump in and save us.

Moreover, it’s a foregone conclusion that there will absolutely be new variants in the future. This is basically guaranteed – viruses reproduce and mutate rapidly. We will have the Upsilon variant, and the Gamma variant, and the Omega and Tau variants. It’s an inevitability.

If we need a new dose every single time Covid mutates, whether the new variant is dangerous or not, we may as well resign ourselves to unlimited doses now. Soon four won’t be enough – you’ll need five, and six, and seven, and eight. And if immunity wears off after a few months, which it appears to, you’ll have to get doses every few months, multiple times a year.

Already, people seem to be losing patience with the vaccine rollout, with large numbers of no-shows for booster appointments – in some centres, up to 50%.

What happens when people are called for not their third dose, but their thirteenth? How long will people’s patience last? At what point does the government cut their losses and give up on this white whale?

Our nation is in an unwinnable war of attrition, with the Irish State on one side, and common sense on the other. Covid is to the Irish government what Vietnam was to the American government – a useless quagmire of embarrassment that ends in defeat. The longer they pursue this pointless campaign, the worse it’ll be for all of us in the long term.



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