THE headline, in lofty bold type across two full pages, screams: ‘6million follow anti-vaxxer lies’. The Mail on Sunday is firing a full salvo from the good ship Booster. On the same pages it ‘exposes’ some anti-vaxx military-style group ‘planning mayhem’ and hands the Health Secretary Sajid Javid a column to call out ‘dangerous nonsense’ from extreme anti-vaxxers.
It is a telling postscript to a week in which Boris Johnson seemed to have the needle stuck (no pun intended) on the word ‘booster’ and the newly-knighted Chris Whitty again over-stepped the mark from unelected adviser to public influencer.
The vaccine voices are getting louder and more strident: ‘misinformation’ has become ‘lies’ and persuasion is morphing dangerously close to intimidation. They’re turning up the heat on those who exercise their legal, moral and medical right not to be jabbed.
Why so vigorous an offensive? Could it be that the cracks are showing, that the queues for a third jab are dwindling, that millions are wondering why they are ill despite being vaccinated or that Covid numbers in intensive care are significantly lower than last year? Or is it that Omicron is turning out, for most people, to be not much worse than a cold, the virus behaving just as virologists said it would? Are we approaching the herd immunity Professor Whitty craved when Covid arrived, i.e. no more expensive jabs required?
In this same week GB News granted airtime to sceptical, knowledgeable experts who have been cancelled by Twitter and labelled ‘conspiracy theorists’ and ‘spreaders of false information’ on their Wikipedia pages, while an unvaccinated doctor challenged the science with Sajid Javid on Sky News. The consultant, Steve James, has of course been called ‘deluded’ in a Twitter barrage and put down by Javid in his Mail on Sunday column, but he’s a hero to the estimated 120,000 other NHS professionals who face dismissal for remaining vaccine-free.
And these anti-vaxx lies? It’s in desperation that such world-renowned scientists as Dr Robert Malone, the father of mRNA research; Dr Peter McCullough, a cardiologist who has 1,000 publications and 600 citations in the US National Library of Medicine, and Dr Mike Yeadon, a former top scientist at Pfizer, are smeared and cancelled. Whether they are right or wrong, such experience and expertise demands a hearing. These people – and many others like them – have serious misgivings based on their specific knowledge. And opinions don’t become lies just because they question the narrative. The Mail on Sunday’s quoted six million probably follow names such as these to get a balanced view because, in general, they are not getting it from mainstream media.
Which brings us to Sir Chris Whitty. Studious, strait-laced and straight-faced, he’s been the super-spreader of gloom with his charts and graphs. Now he’s adding judgment.
First came his December message, urging people to ‘prioritise social interactions that really matter to them’. Millions took his advice, devastating thousands of businesses and ruining many a family Christmas. And his words were counter to Boris Johnson’s, however they tried smoothing it over.
But if that was a toe in the political water, he dived right in at the latest Westminster briefing, pronouncing that ‘misinformation’ on the internet, ‘a lot of it deliberately placed’, about potential side-effects from jabs was fuelling fears about vaccine safety.
Fuelling fears? That’s rich, because that’s precisely what the Government has done from day one, with its behaviour specialists frightening and intimidating the population, ‘nudging’ us to comply over Covid, and the media acting as cheerleaders in spreading that fear. Messages have been ‘deliberately placed’ ad infinitum by the Government across TV, radio, newspapers and online, scaring us, cajoling us, appealing to community spirit and playing to guilt . . . ‘Don’t miss out’ or worse, ‘Don’t let your child miss out’. And all with taxpayers’ money.
It is astonishing that Professor Whitty, as a man of science, dismisses internet intelligence as ‘misinformation’. Does he include the aforementioned experts? How about the bona fide scientific investigations under way around the globe about Covid itself, the benefits or otherwise of restrictive measures including lockdowns and mask-wearing, the vaccine’s efficacy and, crucially, its side-effects (note: Pfizer’s clinical trials will not end until 2023, and for children 2025). Pfizer’s own early results are disturbing, as Professor Whitty and his Sage colleagues must know. Will all of this really be labelled misinformation?
Sorry, Professor, science is about questioning, reviewing, reworking, rethinking. It is not about silencing those who challenge, otherwise we would still believe the world is flat. We deserve to hear all sides of the story, particularly when our health and our children’s health is at stake. And particularly if there is even the tiniest shred of doubt about vaccine safety.
But then, maybe you have been ‘nudged’ yourself. It was disturbing to hear the Minister for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Nadine Dorries telling the Commons that the Government has a Disinformation and Misinformation Unit, working daily with online providers to remove ‘harmful’ misinformation, particularly on Covid. Very Orwellian.
The BBC and Sky News have similar units, but their output so far points to a supposed debunking of anything that challenges the official line.
Make no mistake, freedom of speech and open debate are under serious attack, a pincer movement with arbitrary censorship by Big Tech platforms such as YouTube, Facebook and Twitter on one flank and, I’m ashamed to say, most mainstream media outlets on the other.
We accept that in times of crisis government powers necessarily increase and frequently remain long after that crisis is over, but we are on a dangerous path of authoritarianism, of overt State intervention in too many aspects of everyday lives at a time when there seems to be light at the end of the tunnel. Is it any wonder that theories beyond public health are gaining ground?
If Britain was the cradle of democracy, we are now on the road to its grave. And headlines like the Mail on Sunday’s ‘lies’ are signposts along the way.