The anti-vaccine idiocies of a Vincentian nurse
by DR. GARREY MICHAEL DENNIE
FOUR MILLION dead and rising across the globe. ONE HUNDRED AND EIGHT SIX MILLION infected and rising across the globe. These numbers of the sick and the dead are the most horrifying consequences of Covid19, the first pandemic to assail the world since the Spanish flu of 1917-1918. But there is more. In fact, in a mere 18 months Covid19 has killed more people in the world than ALL the wars fought since 1982. And to underline how Covid19 has upended our lives across the world, the Japanese government has just announced that the Olympic Games will be held this summer in Tokyo WITHOUT SPECTATORS! This is a first in the history of the Olympic Games.
Within this global nightmare, however, there is in fact a brightly lit path for the return of normalcy: mass vaccination against Covid19.
And in the United States, in the United Kingdom, in Israel, indeed all across the European Union, we have overwhelming proof of the extraordinary success of mass vaccination in massively reducing the rates of death. Indeed, in the USA, the Centers for Disease Control reports that more than 99 per cent of all new Covid19 infections are among unvaccinated Americans.
It is the sporting arenas of the world, however, that we have the most vivid and spectacular display of the success of mass vaccination. Because this coming Sunday Wembley Stadium in England will host 65,000 spectators to watch England play Italy in the Euro Final. But on this same Sunday, in Brazil’s Maracana stadium, ZERO spectators would be allowed to watch Brazil play against Argentina in the Copa America Final. The Maracana Stadium holds 200,000 seats.
Why this difference? In the United Kingdom more than 80 per cent of the adult population has taken at least one shot of the AstraZeneca vaccine. Brazil’s vaccination rate is less than 10 per cent. That is all you need to know to understand why the Brazilian stadiums are empty, and the English stadiums are filled.
It is therefore deeply unfortunate that in St Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG), the vast majority of our people seem utterly unaware of these startling numbers that demonstrate beyond a shadow of a doubt that we need to vaccinate ourselves against Covid19 at the earliest possible opportunity to save lives, protect health, and return to pre-pandemic normalcy such as we see in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Israel. And it is beyond shocking that some Vincentian nurses stand among the group of people most vehemently opposed to vaccination against Covid19. But multiple sources are reporting that these nurses have been turning away Vincentians seeking to be vaccinated from Covid19 by actually lying about the availability and/or the safety and efficacy of the Covid19 vaccines.
If true, such nurses should be fired forthwith. For these actions represent an extraordinary violation of their oath to provide the best medical care to the people placed within their charge. And if for such nurses, this refusal to honour the requirements of the job is an act of conscience, and if despite the instructions of the health authorities these nurses truly believe that vaccinating Vincentians against Covid19 is detrimental to the health of Vincentians, then as an act of conscience they must resign their posts immediately. But under no circumstance should they be allowed to corrupt their job, or pollute the clear advice of health authorities, by lying to Vincentians seeking to be vaccinated. It is simply unforgivable.
This deliberate sabotage of the national vaccination campaign by some Vincentian nurses has clearly contributed to the vaccine hesitancy that has stalled, and perhaps overwhelmed the Vincentian government’s effort to quickly inoculate upwards of 40,000 Vincentians against Covid19. In fact, the scale of this crisis is measurable, not only by the low vaccination rates in SVG, but more ominously, by the fact that the government has been forced to give away vaccines to Trinidad and Tobago whose government is in a desperate fight to secure for Trinidadians vaccines from everywhere. Indeed, as Trinidadians are running towards the vaccines, Vincentians are running away from the same vaccines.
How and why did some Vincentian nurses become veritable Trojan horses who are undermining the fight against Covid19? This is clearly a matter of urgent national attention. The answer is simple.They have drunk deep from the well of a toxic mix of deadly delusions and deliberate deceptions at the heart of the anti-vaxxer movement which has taken root in SVG.
In my conversations with a Vincentian nurse who strongly rejects the vaccine, three such delusions stand out. The first of these is the idea that the vaccine is more dangerous than the virus that causes Covid19 disease. This is epidemiological stupidity. Or, if you prefer, epic idiocy. Billions of vaccines have been administered around the world and exceedingly few people have actually experienced an adverse event. In fact, there is not a single death where there is a clearly established cause and effect relationship that identifies the vaccine as the cause of the fatality. Hence, when one contrasts these numbers of the safety of the vaccine against the millions the virus has killed and the hundreds of millions it has infected, any claim that the covid vaccines are more dangerous to the contrary is simply delusional.
The second of these is the claim that the vaccines lack efficacy. This claim is equally delusional, and just as deadly. These nurses propagating such nonsense are essentially asking Vincentians to ignore the evidence of their eyes – that wherever we have had a successful mass vaccination campaign, the number of Covid19 related deaths and hospitalisation have plummeted. They are asking us to ignore that last year the virus turned the largest American cities into the cities of the dead and that the vaccine has resurrected the American city into the beating heart of a rejuvenated American nation. The same is true in Europe.
These nurses are therefore asking us not to trust the medical science that demonstrates that vaccines confer 75-95 per cent protection from contracting Covid19 and 100 per cent protection from death. But above all, these nurses are insisting that Vincentians continue to risk their chances of getting ill and dying from Covid19 and the multiple variants which are emerging, rather than seek protection under the umbrella of safety that the vaccines provide.
The third delusion is utterly The anti-vaccine idiocies of a Vincentian nurseparochial – and political: that because the Prime Minister, Dr Ralph Gonsalves grudgingly took a Covid19 vaccine and that he chose a Russian vaccine rather than the AstraZeneca, the most available vaccine in SVG, Vincentians ought not take the vaccine.
This is idiocy on steroids. First, millions of English men and women, the Queen of England, and the Prime Minister of England have indeed taken the Astra-Zeneca vaccine. Second, notwithstanding Gonsalves initial uncertainty, he actually got vaccinated. It is certainly regrettable that the Prime Minister gave anti vaxxers an opening that they have seized upon in their crusade of death. I would certain have advised that he gave the most full throated endorsement of the vaccine.
But from my perspective it is also lamentable that Dr Lorraine Friday has not been a more powerful siren serenading the value of the vaccine for the restoration of pre-pandemic normalcy in SVG. Indeed, on the need for vaccination, all Vincentian politicians across party lines should be singing from the same song book.
However, let us be absolutely clear on this point: no Vincentian should make the decision to take the vaccine based upon political partisanship. Rather, we should vaccinate based upon the unvarnished scientific truth that wherever mass vaccinations have taken place, the vaccines have been immensely successful in reducing deaths and hospitalisations from Covid19.
The anti-vaxxer movement in SVG and elsewhere is preaching a gospel of death. Anyone in SVG, be it lawyer, doctor, or nurse parading this nonsense is an intellectual fraud, utterly unattached to the basic moorings as to how scholars establish and authenticate scientific truth. In general, as a Vincentian scholar, I usually ignore such charlatans and pseudo-intellectuals. This time, however, this fraud has a consequence. It is deadly.