Bella Wallersteiner

Time to Unchain the U.K.

by Bella Wallersteiner We desperately need a SAGE-like group of advisors to assess the impact of the lockdowns on the economy and the mental health of citizens forced to endure social isolation, working from home and endless hours in front of screens. While concerns about vaccine-resistant variants are understandable, there is no evidence yet that these variants lead to more hospitalisations and deaths. Neither has the case been made by SAGE that a two-week delay to the country’s unlocking planned for June 21st is really needed. Unfortunately, Government panjandrums whose livelihoods do not depend on the service economy will want to keep the country in stasis for much longer than a fortnight. The fully inoculated Prime Minister is now under growing pressure to delay the lifting England's remaining Covid restrictions on June 21st. By maintaining a tiered system with varying lockdown levels in different regions, Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland’s First Minister, is likely to have created a template to be adopted by the whole of the United Kingdom (only the Orkney, Shetland and Western Isles have moved to Level 0). Throughout the pandemic, The First Minister has repeatedly made cautious decisions which Downing Street has slavishly followed. Now that 75% of adults in the U.K. have received their first jab and more than half the adult population has been fully vaccinated...

Young People Should Not be Strong-Armed Into Getting Vaccinated

by Bella Wallersteiner Vaccine hesitancy is on the rise among young people after the recent announcement by the Government’s Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) that healthy 18 to 29-year-olds should be given alternative jabs to the AstraZeneca after reports that the vaccine may, in very rare cases, lead to cerebral venous sinus thrombosis (CVST). In layman’s terms, this is a potentially fatal clot to a vein which drains blood from the brain. The European Medicines Agency (EMA), the European Union’s regulator, concluded that “unusual blood clots with low blood platelets should be listed as very rare side effects” of the AstraZeneca vaccine. A growing number of countries including Germany, the Netherlands, Portugal and Spain have stopped giving the AstraZeneca vaccine to anyone under the age of 60. The UK regulator, the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MRHA), has suspended medical trials which involved giving jabs to children. While the chance of developing a blood-clot is still quite low – currently estimated at one in 100,000 – we should have a conversation nevertheless about the risk-benefit ratio of requiring healthy young adults to be injected with a vaccine that in rare cases triggers the immune system to produce antibodies which activate platelets and causes blood clots. By April 11th European regulators had received reports of 222 cases in...

A Hard Rain is Going to Fall

by Bella Wallersteiner Ulrich Muhe as as Gerd Wiesler in The Lives of Others It has been nearly 31 years since the Berlin Wall came down to reveal 69 miles of files amassed by the Ministry of State Security (Stasi) as it spied on more than 5.6 million citizens of the former German Democratic Republic. The archive holds films, photographs, recordings of phone conversations, mind-blowingly tedious reports of mundane conversations and interactions between neighbours and even samples of sweat collected by punctilious officers hoping to win a medal or promotion. We have a supercilious and unfounded belief that British citizens would act differently and rise above compliance with an authoritarian state. Do we not cherish individualism, freedom of speech and make fun of our politicians? Evidence from the first month of lockdown suggests that many of us harbour an inner Stasi: in April the UK Police received 194,000 calls from members of the public snitching on neighbours alleged to have broken lockdown rules by making an unnecessary journey, going for more than one walk a day or checking on a second home. So much for the doughty spirit of British non-conformity and defiant anti-authoritarianism. More recently, the police arrested 32 protesters at the Resist and Act for Freedom Rally in Trafalgar Square on September 19th. The media focused almost entirely...

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December 2022
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