By Vasilis Kanellis
Let us make one thing perfectly clear. I am fully vaccinated and I have a deep belief in science and its accomplishments, which have improved our lives and extended our lifespan.
I place the unvaccinated into two categories. The first includes people who understandably express fears about vaccines, who are concerned because they lack suitable information or because they have not been persuaded by state campaigns and the pleas of experts.
The second category is comprised of those who subscribe to conspiracy theories. They talk about “chips” in vaccines, a change in DNA, Bill Gates, aliens from outer space entering our bodies, and spoons sticking to arms.
The second category cannot be persuaded. For me, personally, the conspiracy theorists and deniers are idiots. That is it. You give up and move forward.
What is happening in Greece and globally goes beyond certain limits that even we realists have set.
Even those who object to massive vaccinations should be concerned when they hear about rules, frameworks, COVID-free restaurants, and bars only for the vaccinated and for those who have in the past fallen sick with COVID-19.
The state has a duty to protect public health in every possible way, even if it shifts the burden of the decision to businessmen, as this is a deeply social and human problem.
A virus has managed to demolish the gains of decades, to cancel our human rights and liberties, and to impose rules which that the citizens of no democratic country would have been able to accept.
Just think of this. We will call up a restaurant or a favourite haunt and say, “A reservation for a party of four, two vaccinated and two who have fallen ill from COVID-19”.
What happens if our friends are not yet vaccinated? If one is afraid does one wait or make a reservation for a future date?
Will they never again go to a cafe and restaurant? Will they no longer socialise with vaccinated people?
Yes, this is a deeply socio-political tectonic shift that strikes at the heart of human rights.
A campaign to persuade people to be vaccinated so as to build a wall of immunity is one thing and the creation of new Spinalongas [the notorious, long defunct island-leper colony, photo] is quite another.
The need to vaccinate as many people as possible is one thing and creating a two-speed society is quite another.
This is an exceptionally alarming phenomenon that presages a future dystopia, an eventuality that is not so far off as one might think.
What happens if they demand that the unvaccinated wear some kind of insignia?
Let us remember the Star of David armband and the number branded on the hands of Jews.
What if one were to pass a law requiring 4,000 people to have their hair cut because otherwise the unvaccinated could not go about their business?
What will happen with the millions of people in poor countries who do not have access to vaccines and with other unfortunate people that do not have the ability to be vaccinated?
Shall we imprison them on rock islands?
No, the wall of immunity cannot be built by curbing personal freedoms and choices or by violating human rights or by dividing people into categories, as that will lead to throwing the baby out with the bathwater.
Will someone who is allergic to medicines or cannot be vaccinated for health reasons have to explain to every shop owner that he or she has not been vaccinated for these reasons?
Meanwhile, let us look at the issue of private data. The administration of any medicine or vaccine is confidential, private data and there will be huge legal consequences for anyone who has or demands access to the medical file of every citizen.
One might reply that there are thousands of apps that record our choices, what we are looking for, what we eat, where we go, and what our sexual preferences are.
Yes, that is true, yet that does not mean we need an additional Sword of Damocles over our heads.
In the final analysis, one cannot ask people to be vaccinated of their own accord and at the same time target them as society once targeted lepers.
Such actions are more likely to bolster the anti-vaccine movement than to stem it.
What is needed is the power of persuasion. We need serious people to address the issues without confusing people. We need scientists and not television stars. We need politicians that are close to the people and not preoccupied with appearances.
The unprecedented pandemic will end at some point and there will be new vaccines and medicines.
Yet, if that goal is achieved by trampling over any sense of human dignity, then the world will regress to bygone centuries.
Moreover, a civil war between vaccinated and unvaccinated citizens does not do honour to a contemporary society, which must be based on the principles of solidarity, socialmovements, and support for the weaker social strata – and not on agony or devouring one another.