Vaccine Passports

Boris Admits the Vaccine “Doesn’t Protect You Against Catching the Disease, and It Doesn’t Protect You Against Passing it On”

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has admitted that the Covid vaccines do not prevent infection or transmission. Speaking to reporters on a visit to a Covid vaccination centre in London on Friday, the Prime Minister said that double vaccination provides “a lot of protection against serious illness and death” but does not protect against “catching the disease” or “passing it on”. Has he been reading the Daily Sceptic?

His message was to underline the importance of boosters:

So the message is that the boosters are fantastic. The levels of protection are really very high, but it’s also very, very important that you get one because the double vaccination provides a lot of protection against serious illness and death but it doesn’t protect you against catching the disease, and it doesn’t protect you against passing it on. So now is the time to get your booster.

But if being double-vaccinated doesn’t prevent you being infected or transmitting the virus after just a few months, why will a booster be much better? Why is it so important to prevent transmission and infection through boosters anyway, when protection against serious illness and death is holding up well and that’s all that really matters?

Another question for the Prime Minster: What now is the point of vaccine passports and mandates? Why sack hundreds of thousands of care home workers and health care staff who decline vaccination, most of whom have served faithfully throughout the pandemic, if vaccination makes no difference to how infectious you are and so does not protect others?

Now that the Prime Minister himself has let the cat out of the bag on the vaccines and not preventing spread, will the media start reporting on this data properly? And will the Government now join the dots and abandon vaccine coercion? We can but hope.

If Another Lockdown is Imposed, or Vaccine Passports are Introduced, the Government Will Use the Almost Unlimited Powers Granted to it by the Public Health Act

We’re publishing a guest post today by Daily Sceptic regular Dr. David McGrogan, as Associate Professor in Northumbria Law School, about the Government’s reliance on the Public Health Act 1984 to railroad through all the Covid restrictions of the past 18 months and which will almost certainly be invoked to justify vaccine passports if and when they’re introduced. He applauds the Covid Recovery Group’s efforts to reform the PHA, but thinks they’re unlikely to succeed because our supine MPs quite like the current arrangement for self-interested reasons.

In a recent piece, Toby accurately laid out the basic legal position with regard to almost all of the various Covid-related restrictions brought in since March 2020. That is, although there is such a thing as the Coronavirus Act 2020, and although some of its original contents permitted the Government to do things that were quite draconian, it has not been the source of any of the restrictions that have been imposed. These have more or less all come through secondary or delegated legislation under the Public Health (Control of Disease) Act 1984, making the Coronavirus Act 2020 a bit of a red herring. I thought it would be useful for readers of the Daily Sceptic to understand what this is all about, why it is, frankly, an outrage, and why the Covid Recovery Group of MPs are focused on repeal of the 1984 Act rather than the 2020 one.

It is important to provide a bit of background on this for readers without a background in law or politics. In U.K. constitutional arrangements, only Parliament can create law, which it does through primary legislation: an Act of Parliament. Only Parliament can create law, because only it comprises (in the form of the House of Commons) the elected representatives of the people, who are sovereign. In practical terms, of course, most Acts originate as bills put forward by the government, but governments cannot simply make laws by decree – they must pass through the legislature.

However, it has long been thought that getting Parliament to pass Acts for every piddling thing a government might wish to do would be time-consuming and get in the way of efficiency and expediency, and hence there has evolved a system of delegated legislation. Delegated legislation is, basically, law that is created by a government minister or other public body through powers granted them by an Act of Parliament. Parliament passes an Act (primary legislation) which specifically grants the power to a minister to make certain orders or regulations, and the minister thereby creates legislation lawfully because Parliament has said he can. Usually this is done for fairly trivial and/or technical matters that it is not worth spending parliamentary time on.

Dozens of MPs Set to Join Campaign Demanding That the Government Permanently Rules Out Vaccine Passports

Campaigners from the Together Declaration group which opposes the introduction of vaccine passports will soon meet with members of the parliamentary Covid Recovery Group (CRG) along with other MPs and will together demand that the Government never imposes these passes, including under the pretext of an “exceptionally difficult winter“. The Sunday Express has the story.

Campaigners for the Together Declaration petition, already signed by almost 110,000 people, fear that the U.K. Government will be pushed into agreeing to a so-called ‘Plan B’ to bring in new restrictions over the winter.

It follows warnings by Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty last week that the NHS will “experience an exceptionally difficult winter” this year. …

Already, Sir Graham Brady, Chairman of the 1922 Committee, which represents backbench Conservative MPs has signed the declaration.

He said: “‘Vaccine passports would set an alarming precedent where our medical records become public and some people are subjected to discrimination as they seek to go about their everyday lives. Surely that isn’t the kind of society that we want to create?”

Another senior Tory MP, Sir Desmond Swayne added: “It is contrary to all our values and traditions to have to prove that we have undergone a medical procedure to go about our lawful business.

“It is coercive and discriminatory, the abandonment of liberal values; a frightful precedent to set. I am appalled that a Conservative Government could contemplate such a measure. If we start down this road the future is dark.”

Campaigners will meet former minister Steve Baker, Deputy Chairman of the powerful CRG, and other Parliamentarians tomorrow before unfurling a 40m banner in Parliament Square.

Other confirmed supporters include MPs Esther McVey, Philip Davies, Chris Green and Henry Smith as well as Baroness Fox and Lord Sharpe from the Lords. …

The declaration is being organised by campaigner Alan Miller who fears that vaccine passports in England will come.

He said: “The U.K. Government has never taken Plan B off the table and now they have happened in Wales and Scotland it will be very tempting to introduce them.”

The petition has also been signed by leading scientists and medics including Professor Karol Sikora, leading cancer specialist; and Marcantonio Spada, professor of Psychology at London’s Southbank University.

Worth reading in full.

Stop Press: This event has been postponed for a couple of weeks because both houses of Parliament will be closed tomorrow following the tribute to Sir David Amess.

YouTube Censors Conservative Ex-Minister David Davis For Criticising Vaccine Passports

YouTube removed a video of a speech made by David Davis at a Conservative Party Conference fringe meeting in which he argued against the introduction of vaccine passports in the U.K. The Independent has more.

Senior Conservative MP David Davis has accused YouTube of censoring him after the platform removed his speech criticising the use of domestic vaccine passports in Britain.

The video of the former cabinet minister – speaking on the fringes of the Tory party’s annual conference last week – was uploaded by the civil liberties campaign group, Big Brother Watch.

In a notification email, the platform told the organisation: “YouTube doesn’t allow claims about Covid-19 vaccinations that contradict expert consensus from local health authorities or the World Health Organisation (WHO).”

During the speech, Mr. Davis hit out at the use of domestic vaccine passports, decrying them as “illiberal, demanding that we an ordinary British citizens produce our papers to do something which is normal in our daily lives”.

The Conservative MP suggested the use of vaccine passports was about “trying to push a policy by covert coercion, about pressurising people to get vaccinated”.

Just last month, the U.K. Government dramatically shelved proposals to the [sic] enforce the mandatory use of vaccine passports at crowded venues such as nightclubs, but has kept the policy option in reserve.

Reacting angrily to the move to remove the video, which has now been reinstated on YouTube, Mr. Davis labelled it an “outrageous attack on free speech”.

“Throughout the pandemic, we have seen blatant attempts by big tech to silence opposition voices challenging the conventional wisdom,” he said.

Mr. Davis added: “My speech at conference was carefully researched, wholly accurate and backed up with the latest scientific fact.

“This unambiguous attempt by YouTube to censor by speech is a warning. If YouTube is happy to attempt to silence elected Members of Parliament, then they are also happy to censor anyone uploading content to their speech.”

Worth reading in full.

Let’s hope this is a wake up call to MPs about the threat posed to free speech by the Online Safety Bill, which will encourage social media platforms to be even more censorious.

Stop Press: YouTube has now reinstated the video, which you can watch here. As UnHerd’s Freddie Sayers says: “If you have a megaphone you get attention and the censorship is reversed, but if you don’t…”

Covid Infections Begin to Rise in Northern Europe as Winter ‘Flu Season’ Gets Underway

Has the winter ‘flu season’ begun in northern Europe, with signs of upticks in Covid positive tests in the U.K., Denmark, Finland, the Netherlands and also Russia?

There’s no new variant driving these – it appears to be purely seasonal, with Delta still dominating. There’s also a lot more herd immunity around now (and high vaccination rates, if that has any effect on infection and transmission). What will a winter Covid surge look like under these conditions? We may be about to find out.

Denmark recently ended all restrictions, including abolishing vaccine passports, declaring Covid no longer a “socially critical disease”. Let’s hope it holds its nerve as winter hits, and that we, too, will resist introducing any draconian new measures as we face whatever the coming season may throw at us.

Vaccine Passports to Be Checked at England Rugby Matches

Vaccine passports are alive and well, despite the Government’s scrapping of its plans, with certification set to be required at upcoming England rugby matches. In order to attend, fans will need proof either of having been vaccinated against Covid, of recently testing negative or of recently having recovered from the virus. Given plans to scrap free Covid testing, options available to fans may soon become even more limited. The Telegraph has the story.

The Rugby Football Union announced on Tuesday that the visits of Tonga, Australia and world champions South Africa next month would witness the use of so-called Covid passports.

The fixtures, set to be England’s first in front of a packed Twickenham since last year’s Six Nations, will see spot checks carried out to ensure adults attending are either fully vaccinated, have taken a negative test up to 48 hours earlier, or have natural immunity.

Welcoming back “capacity crowds”, the RFU said: “There will be more checks prior to entry than normal for everyone attending, whether as a fan or here to work. Please arrive early and allow more time than usual to access the stadium.”

England last played in front of a packed Twickenham on March 7th 2020 when they beat Wales 33-30 in a thrilling Six Nations game.

That was the final weekend before the tournament was effectively suspended due to the coronavirus crisis.

And it’s not just rugby:

Formula 1 medical driver Alan van der Merwe was on Tuesday night facing being banned from the climax of the season after it emerged he had refused to be vaccinated against coronavirus.

Van der Merwe and anyone else unjabbed who would otherwise travel to a Grand Prix were in danger of being prevented from attending the final three races in Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Abu Dhabi.

Proof of vaccination is currently required in the former two countries, while it is also expected to be necessary for access to the paddock at the latter race.

That could see some of the hundreds of personnel that normally travel to a Grand Prix banned from attending unless granted an exemption to do so.

That would include any unvaccinated drivers, although a source told Telegraph Sport it was thought all of them had been double-jabbed.

Van der Merwe and F1 doctor Ian Roberts both missed Sunday’s Turkish GP after testing positive for Covid. …

He [said]: “I am fully aware that I will potentially be less employable or that my freedom of movement will be restricted based on my choices.

“That I will not choose convenience over my own health does not mean I am making decisions out of selfishness. We all just want to be healthy.”

Worth reading in full.

Wales Rolls Out Vaccine Passports After Botched Vote

The Welsh Government has introduced a Covid status certification scheme for nightclubs and large indoor and outdoor events in spite of only securing approval for it in the Senedd by one vote after a Conservative MS was unable to connect via Zoom. Had the vote been tied, the scheme would not have been introduced. Unfortunately, the report on BBC News about the Welsh Covid Pass neglects to mention this fact and – even more bizarrely – fails to point out that being double jabbed only marginally reduces your chances of becoming infected or infecting others. On the contrary, it quotes people saying how relieved they are that they’ll now be ‘safe’ from infection at football stadiums and the like.

Lidi Staffurth is one of thousands of people who have been shielding during the pandemic due to a condition which makes them extremely vulnerable to COVID-19.

She said Covid passes would help reassure people who might feel uncertain about attending large events, adding she felt she had her “freedom back”.

Ms Staffurth labelled it a “brilliant idea”, not least because there are three young people in her family.

“If they’re in large groups then we’ll know they’re around people who are double vaccinated, or at least free from Covid,” she said.

“I think it’s a fantastic idea and for a society at large it means people are looking after each other.

“I think some young people just don’t care – they’ve had it with Covid, and I think we’ve all had it with Covid – but they live in their own little bubble and they don’t really see beyond that bubble a lot.

“And that’s fair enough, but it means with a Covid pass they’re made to consider that.”

The rugby game between Wales and New Zealand at the Principality Stadium on October 30th will be one of the first sporting events where attendees are required to produce a Covid Pass before being admitted.

Germany Scraps Free Covid LFTs, Pushing Unvaccinated into Getting Jabbed

Germans who have not been vaccinated against Covid (or have not recently recovered from the virus) must now pay for tests in order to attend public gatherings, with free lateral flow tests having been scrapped by the Government. Added financial pressure is expected to nudge those who have decided not to get vaccinated into abandoning their positions. The Guardian has the story.

Public gatherings across Germany have since August 23rd been allowed to go ahead if they follow the so-called “3G” rule (short for geimpft, genesen oder getestet), meaning participants have to show proof of either vaccination, a recent recovery from the virus, or an up-to-date test result.

A large-scale infrastructure offering free Government-subsidised rapid antigen tests that sprung up across Germany over the spring and summer made testing part of people’s everyday routine while vaccinations were still hard to come by.

But as of October 11th the Government says it can no longer justify paying for free tests out of the public purse since all residents over the age of 12 can now get the jab if they want to.

The hope is that the cost and inconvenience of paying for coronavirus tests will help to boost Germany’s stagnating vaccination rate, a problem politicians did little to address while the country was locked in election campaign mode.

Similar plans are being drawn up in England which could push the unvaccinated to get jabbed if a similar vaccine passport scheme is introduced later this year.

Worth reading in full.

Welsh Government Pushing Ahead with Vaccine Passports despite Compromised Vote

Democracy is very much not in action in Wales, where the Labour Government has rejected calls for another vote on the introduction of vaccine passport checks at nightclubs and other ‘large’ venues after a Tory MS (opposed to the plans) was unable to vote because of a Zoom error. Had his vote been counted, the scheme would not have been able to pass through the Senedd.

First Minister Mark Drakeford has dismissed concerns regarding liberty, describing vaccine passports as nothing other than a “simple measure which will help to keep people safe from coronavirus”. The Guardian has the story.

The Conservative member Gareth Davies was trying to vote remotely against the scheme but failed to connect to the debating chamber in Cardiff via Zoom, allowing the Labour-led Government to win the vote 28-27.

Representatives of clubs and bars are calling for the vote to be re-run but the Government said the new law, which will make holding a Covid pass compulsory for people to get into venues including nightclubs and major sporting events, would come into force.

The Welsh First Minister, Mark Drakeford, said the vote was an “extraordinary” moment, but added: “The way the vote is conducted is not for the government, that is for the parliament. It is members’ responsibilities to make sure they are in the chamber or on Zoom.”

Speaking to the BBC, he said: “What was really extraordinary was the fact that opposition parties were not prepared to support this simple measure which will help to keep people safe from coronavirus.”

The Welsh Government says the measure, due to come into force on Monday, is needed because of rising Covid rates, especially among young people. …

None of the opposition parties have said they feel the vote ought to be re-run.

Worth reading in full.

More Evidence that Natural Immunity Beats Vaccine-Induced Immunity

I previously wrote about the Israeli study which found that natural immunity provides much better protection against infection than the Pfizer vaccine.

Sivan Gazit and colleagues tracked two groups of people over time: fully vaccinated people who’d never tested positive; and unvaccinated people who had tested positive. Of the 257 cases that were detected at follow-up, 93% occurred in the vaccinated group, and only 7% occurred in the previously infected group.

And indeed, a recent systematic review (which has not yet been peer-reviewed) confirms that natural immunity confers a very high degree of protection against infection. The researchers analysed 10 studies, and found that the “weighted average risk reduction against reinfection was 90.4%”.

Compare this to studies of the vaccines’ efficacy against infection. In July, the Israeli Ministry of Health reported that the Pfizer vaccine’s effectiveness had dropped to just 39%. And a pre-print study by Qatari researchers found that it fell to zero after six months. (Though the vaccines’ efficacy against severe diseases appears to hold up well.)

Adding to the evidence outlined above, there are now studies comparing natural and vaccine-induced immunity at the cellular level.

I should mention that I am not qualified to evaluate the methods used by these studies, so I will have to assume the authors have done things properly. With that qualification in mind, it’s worth briefly discussing what they found.

In a recent paper published in Cell Reports, researchers from Minneapolis compared the memory B cells generated after natural infection versus mRNA vaccination. Memory B cells (MBCs) are part of the adaptive immune system; they are responsible for recognising antigens, and triggering a secondary immune response.

The researchers found that “infection-induced primary MBCs have better antigen-binding capacity and generate more plasmablasts and secondary MBCs of the classical and atypical subsets than vaccine-induced primary MBCs”. As a result, infection-induced MBCs “produce more robust secondary responses”.

In a second study, published as a preprint, researchers from Boston compared the durability and breadth of antibodies after natural infection versus mRNA vaccination. They found that infection-induced antibodies “exhibited superior stability and cross-variant neutralisation breadth than antibodies induced by a two-dose mRNA regimen”.

In other words, individuals who’d already been infected had better immunity against the then-novel Delta variant, as compared to ‘naïve’ individuals who’d received an mRNA vaccine.

Taken together, the statistical and immunological evidence suggests that natural immunity provides better protection against infection than the mRNA vaccines. This does not mean that nobody stands to benefit from vaccination. The vaccines are still an important way of achieving focused protection for high-risk groups.

But it does undermine the case for vaccine passports, and for vaccinating 12-15 year-olds. As Jay Bhattacharya wrote back in July: “Any infection-blocking effects are probably short-term unless the vaccine does very much better than natural immunity, which is rare in medicine.”