Newstalk’s Pat Kenny has expressed frustration that employers can’t legally ask for their employees’ vaccine status, and urged Health Minister Stephen Donnelly to impose a stay-at-home lockdown order only on the unjabbed.
“Employers need to be able to ask if staff are vaccinated,” Kenny told Donnelly during an interview this week.
He proceeded to read out a message from a listener who said that his mother, who is in her 60s, was being asked to go into work among unvaccinated people, which the listener described as “madness.” Kenny replied:
“I see no reason why an employer couldn’t say “You can work from home or you can come into the office. The only thing is, if you come into the office, you’ve got to be doubly vaccinated”…That’s logical. Why is that not permitted?”
Now, they’re right about one thing – this is madness. Just not in the way that they think.
If someone is apparently in such hysterics about Covid-19 that they’re willing to advocate for a two-tier society akin to a medical caste system, it’s important to acknowledge how the vaccine or virus is being shown to operate.
It’s now common knowledge that fully-vaccinated people have a similar viral load to unvaccinated people, and can spread the virus in household settings just as easily.
Double jabbed people are catching Covid and passing it on to those they live with, warn experts https://t.co/lzGboAjSUp
— BBC News (UK) (@BBCNews) October 28, 2021
At this point you might say “But that says household settings, not workplace.” To which I would reply, what’s the difference? What’s so special about a kitchen compared to a room in any other building? At the end of the day it’s four walls and a ceiling – there’s nothing magic about an office cubicle compared to a living room that would stop you spreading the virus at work, and you spend prolonged periods of time in both.
In fact, many people work long hours and spend more time around their colleagues at their job than they do at home with their family. If you can spread Covid to those in your household there’s no reason to assume you can’t spread Covid to your workmates. And all of this is to say nothing of waning immunity over time, which is already starting to manifest.
Waning vaccine immunity a factor in rising Covid-19 cases, Mills says https://t.co/OGTimwY8hd
— The Irish Times (@IrishTimes) October 16, 2021
In other words, if Kenny’s fear is that he might catch Covid off a colleague, he seems to have just as much to fear from any fully-jabbed co-worker than he does from an unjabbed one. Forcing the unjabbed out of the workplace will do virtually nothing to prevent the virus’ spread, as we have seen in Waterford city, which became the biggest Covid hotbed in the country after jabbing 99.7% of the county’s adult population.
Waterford city has the highest rate of vaccination in Ireland, (99.7% of adults) yet has a case rate three times the national average per 100,000 people.
It’s crystal clear that obsessing over case rates is going to get us nowhere. https://t.co/PhMvgptW0R
— Dominique Samuels (@DominiqueTaegon) October 25, 2021
In fact, it’s ludicrous that right now, someone who is fully-vaccinated but is also Covid-positive – perhaps even sneezing and sputtering on everyone – can walk into a venue no problem, but a person who is unvaccinated who has no symptoms can’t unless they take an expensive test.
Of course, even putting these practical points aside, it’s also just highly immoral and illegal to force someone out of the workplace because of a medical decision they made about their own health. Stephen Donnelly (of all people) even had to remind Kenny of privacy laws, saying:
“The legal advice we have is that it’s not permitted for GDPR reasons. You cannot force anyone to tell you their vaccine status, anymore than you can force them to tell you your underlying health conditions.”
In the same interview, however, Kenny went even further, calling for an outright Level 5-style stay-at-home order just for the unvaccinated.
“Before we had the vaccines, people who were deemed to be particularly vulnerable, like myself, were told to cocoon…All these people who are unvaccinated are deemed to be vulnerable. The logical thing is to tell them to stay at home. If you’re not vaccinated, stay at home.”
He also added that 5-to-12 year olds are vulnerable categories as well. But that’s not what the evidence shows.
A study in England found that between March 2020 and February 2021, an 11-month period, 25 people in England under-18 died of Covid. Of these, half had serious underlying conditions. This represents a death rate of 2 for every million people in this age range, or 0.000002%.
Deaths from COVID ‘incredibly rare’ among children https://t.co/m8TIAfiK1E
— Johns Hopkins Berman Institute of Bioethics (@bermaninstitute) July 15, 2021
Does this make their deaths any less tragic? Obviously not. But claiming young people who aren’t jabbed are in a category “vulnerable” to Covid is just not true. Studies have shown that, in fact, children and young people “remain at low-risk for Covid-19 mortality.”
Children and young people remain at low risk of COVID-19 mortality – The Lancet Child & Adolescent Health https://t.co/Fwg5Lu5erJ
— 🇧🇷Ailton Benedito (@AiltonBenedito) May 3, 2021
To claim that “all” unvaccinated people are vulnerable to this virus is also not the case.
If you are obese, have an underlying condition, or are over 60 and unvaccinated, then yes – you are likely to be more vulnerable to Covid. That’s not the case for most of the population: in fact the WHO says that “most people infected with the virus will experience mild to moderate respiratory illness and recover without requiring special treatment.”
They add that “some will become seriously ill and require medical attention. Older people and those with underlying medical conditions like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, chronic respiratory disease, or cancer are more likely to develop serious illness.”
We have to learn to live with the risk. Last year 64 people were killed by sharks globally, but we’re not shutting down all beaches until we’ve hunted down and eliminated every shark on earth.
In fact, this whole conversation is predicated on the assumption that all unvaccinated people will definitely get Covid. Kenny even said:
“People are going to get sick, because they’re not vaccinated.”
Where is his evidence for this exactly? It’s not guaranteed that everyone will even catch Covid, let alone get sick from it. Researchers say that up to 80% of people who catch Covid don’t even know they have it because their symptoms are so mild, and that’s pre-vaccine.
Up to 80% of COVID-19 Infections Are Asymptomatic, a New Case Report Says https://t.co/SEbrXCFExO
— TIME Health (@TIMEHealth) May 27, 2020
Of course some studies have found that the asymptomatic figure is lower – it’s hard to quantify exactly because if you’re asymptomatic you’re probably not subjecting yourself to Covid tests. But either way, it’s a decent chunk of cases.
Therefore, saying that “people are going to get sick because they’re not vaccinated” seems like a baseless assumption on Kenny’s part, treating a section of the population as walking biohazards with no apparent evidence.
Kenny concluded by saying that willingly unvaccinated people who were declining the jab as a choice for seemingly strange reasons should be shown “no quarter,” which is another way of saying “no mercy.”
“We’re being too easy on the [willfully] unvaccinated cohort…Those who wilfully say “No, I don’t believe in it, I think there’s a chip in the vaccine that’s going to infect my brain” – those sorts of people, why give them any quarter at all?”
Is this an example of stirring up discrimination – even hatred – against a section of the population because of their medical decisions and personal beliefs, however out-there they seem? Will we start showing “no quarter” to people who get STIs from promiscuous sex or needle-sharing too? Will we deprive them of their rights for the collective good?
One would certainly hope not.