Omicron

Should I refuse my booster vaccination, as a protest against the failure to vaccinate most of the world?

Covid news moved quickly last week. There was a variant which might be of concern, which South Africa reported to WHO on Wednesday 24th, as B.1.1.529. Then there were news media referring to it as Mu or Nu. Then on Friday WHO classified it as Omicron. They said the earliest known case in South Africa was sequenced from a sample collected on 9 November. So flights from South Africa were suddenly banned, but too late. With minimal prescience I thought, it’s here already. On Saturday afternoon, the first British cases were reported.

Dr Ayoade Alakija expressed coruscating anger, eloquently expressing what I feel. Omicron, reportedly with reinfection rate 2, has many mutations affecting its spike protein. The spike is the basis of many vaccines. So Omicron is more likely to defeat the vaccines than Delta. Rich countries could have reduced the risk of variants reaching us by vaccinating poor countries. But we didn’t.

The UK has delivered only 11% of the vaccines it promised to the global vaccine distribution agency.

A certain level of covid appears to be found acceptable. In Britain testing has found around 30,000 cases a day since July. Not all positive tests may be reported. There have been over a hundred deaths a day since August, but the figures seem fairly stable. The UK total deaths is now over 143,000. Since August, around 800 a day have been admitted to hospital– some to be put on oxygen, some to be put on ventilators.

The world cumulative death toll, with all the data-gathering problems that has, was given as 5.2m as I typed.

I am convinced that the vaccine substantially reduces my chances of infection, of serious illness, and of passing on Delta. I think it probable that a booster would also reduce the risks of these things with Omicron. I fear there will be sufficient data available soon to test that hypothesis. If not, there may be work on other vaccines. Whatever doubt there is that the booster would affect Omicron, there are currently high rates of Delta infection in Britain, and taking the booster is the action I can take to reduce risk to myself and others.

A hunger strike is only a risk to the individual concerned. Refusing vaccination causes risk to others. I have an obligation to those I might infect. A protest has limited effect. I would inform my MP, but it would not by itself make our Nationalist government take vaccination of other countries seriously.

Separate from what effect any action might have, I might try to consider whether it was right to refuse vaccination.

Saturday, I went to an organ recital by a friend. Some were masked in the church, some were not. In “For the fallen”, Elgar arr. Harrison Oxley, he took us on a profound emotional journey. In carol preludes by Noel Rawsthorne he filled me with joy. After, a group of us went for coffee. There was a small sign on the table about masking when away from tables, and noting our presence with our phones, but I did not have my phone and don’t know if anyone did. As I type, there were further restrictions predicted, but I have no idea what “Let the corpses pile high” Johnson might countenance to reduce spread.

I would want to distinguish any depressive lack of motivation to arrange the booster, now I have had my invitation letter, from a principled desire to protest.

Then on the news on Saturday evening I heard that Omicron symptoms might be less severe than Delta. However, even if Omicron is not a serious threat, Delta is, and the same arguments about not getting a booster apply.

I don’t know. What do you think?

8 thoughts on “Omicron

  1. No, Clare. Unfortunately in order to save the pressure on our already burnt out NHS staff and perhaps for the sake of those who really need the NHS at the moment. Pressure needed on this awful government to protect not only their voters and think global. But fat chance.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you, Friend.

      Added, 29 November: If I were to refuse the booster, it would be because of rights and duties rather than for what a booster might achieve. What right have I to a booster, when so many people cannot get a first vaccination? But I also have a duty to those around me. If I were to become sick enough to enter hospital, or to infect someone else, that would have been made more likely by my refusal. These arguments seem more salient than ones about what I might achieve by a refusal.

      And, humans are not as rational as we pretend. Someone who has some incohate discomfort about being vaccinated is pressed for a reason, and they come out with something like, my body is a temple, I take care what I let be put into it. Then that becomes crystallised as their Reason, and they trot it out to justify their decision. I might give other people a better reason for refusal. Look, look, I am not selfish!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. It seems a very noble goal, to offer your booster to someone who needs it. At the same time, given your comments on the current administration’s failure to act on their agreement to donate vaccines, giving yours up seems unlikely to reach those who are in need.

    Perhaps it’s a case of the least worst choice? Take the vaccine, protect others as well as yourself, and do what you can to speak truth to power.

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    • If my aim is to get the UK government to keep its promises to provide vaccines for other countries, then writing to my MP is possibly as good as writing saying I am protesting. If I feel I have no right to a booster when so many have not had one shot, avoiding the booster is right even if it achieves nothing. But there is the obligation to people I might breathe with.

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  3. In less than a week, Aotearoa New Zealand moves to the new covid protection strategy. One distinguishing feature is that businesses can choose to be “passport only” and admit only vaccination passport holders, or “open to all” and not restrict access. Like everyone else who is vaccinated I am free to access either type of business. I’ve thought long and hard about this and as vaccinations can not yet eliminate the transmission of covid, I’ve taken it upon myself to commit to avoiding premises open to the unvaccinated.

    I made this choice not for myself, because being vaccinated, the chance of serious harm to myself is minimal, but passing the virus on to someone else who is immunocompromised or is otherwise not protected (for example those under 12 years of age) could have serious consequences. Avoiding places where there are unvaccinated people reduces the opportunity for me to pass covid on.

    I admit it’s little more than a token effect in the big scheme of things, but one I think worthy of carrying out nevertheless. Thankfully we have a government that listens to the science on covid, so there’s no need for me to take a stance against them on this issue.

    As to vaccinating the poorer countries, even Aotearoa is lagging as we’ve only delivered about half of what was promised. Perhaps that might be because this nation had to ration vaccinations here until the end of September due to the delay in getting sufficient quantities from countries of manufacture, so perhaps we can meet our commitment by the end of year.

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