Monday, May 25, 2020

Comments Not Free Guardian Frets Over EU Anti-Vaxxer Coalitions

Guardian |  In front of Berlin’s Brandenburg Gate a politically incongruous crowd of protesters gathered on Saturday. They wore flowers in their hair, hazmat suits emblazoned with the letter Q, badges displaying the old German imperial flag or T-shirts reading “Gates, My Ass” – a reference to the US software billionaire Bill Gates.

Around the globe, millions are counting the days until a Covid-19 vaccine is discovered. These people, however, were protesting for the right not to be inoculated – and they weren’t the only ones.

For the ninth week running, thousands gathered in European cities to vent their anger at social distancing restrictions they believe to be a draconian ploy to suspend basic civil rights and pave the way for “enforced vaccinations” that will do more harm than the Covid-19 virus itself.

Walking towards the focal point of the protests down the Straße des 17. Juni boulevard, one woman said she believed the Covid-19 pandemic to be a hoax thought up by the pharmaceutical industry.
“I’d never let myself be vaccinated,” said the woman, who would give her name only as Riot Granny. “I didn’t get a jab for the flu either, and I am still alive.”

The alliance of anti-vaxxers, neo-Nazi rabble-rousers and esoteric hippies, which has in recent weeks been filling town squares in cities such as Berlin, Vienna and Zurich is starting to trouble governments as they map out scenarios for re-booting their economies and tackling the coronavirus long term.

Even before an effective vaccine against Covid-19 has been developed, national leaders face a dilemma: should they aim to immunise as large a part of the population as possible as quickly as possible, or does compulsory vaccination risk boosting a street movement already prone to conspiracy theories about “big pharma” and its government’s authoritarian tendencies?