In my most recent Spectator column, I describe my recent bout of Covid and why it has almost – almost – persuaded me to get vaccinated.
While I was ill I read the following sentence in an article by Ed West, which put the wind up me: “An unvaccinated man in his fifties has about a one-in-150 chance of dying if he catches Covid, and is much more likely still to be hospitalised, put in ICU and left prematurely aged.” He didn’t give a source for the one in 150 figure, but that was on the high side, surely? Concerned, I commissioned a professor of epidemiology to calculate Omicron’s infection fatality rate for my Daily Sceptic website and he came up with 0.04 per cent, or one in 2,500, a figure that includes the vaccinated. Slightly higher for men in their fifties no doubt, but not one in 150.
However, the second part of Ed’s sentence – that the unvaccinated are more likely to end up in ICU than the vaccinated – is probably right. Was that where I was headed? I know, I know. My chances of being hospitalised, let alone put on a ventilator, were low, assuming it was Omicron. But what if it wasn’t? Or what if it was and I just got unlucky? I could picture the newspaper headline: “Unvaccinated lockdown sceptic in intensive care with severe Covid.” It wouldn’t be long before the BBC’s Clive Myrie was standing at the end of my bed, microphone in hand, asking me how I felt about not being jabbed.
This, for me, is the best argument against remaining unvaccinated. Not the risk of being in ICU and left ‘prematurely aged’ or worse, but the absolute certainty that if that happened I would be ridiculed mercilessly by my enemies. Totally undeserved, of course. I’m dubious about the effectiveness and durability of the Covid vaccines and concerned about the lack of medium- and long-term safety data, but I think of myself as a ‘vaccine sceptic’ rather than an ‘anti-vaxxer’ – and even that is over-stating it, as I’ve got nothing against the MMR. Nevertheless, you can bet your bottom dollar that if I was hospitalised with the virus I would be branded a “leading anti-vaxxer” and pilloried accordingly. In the eyes of the vaccine enthusiasts, anyone who expresses the slightest smidgen of doubt is a science-denying ‘conspiracy theorist’ and if they’re laid low by COVID-19 that’s divine justice.
Worth reading in full, obviously.
Stop Press: I’ve just been interviewed by Brendan O’Neill for his podcast to mark the second anniversary of the Free Speech Union. You can listen that here.