Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Not a fan of fanning the flames of division

This morning on CBC Radio 1, I heard the mayor of Vancouver refer to protesters of the incoming (for B.C.) vaccine passport as “kooks” among other disparaging remarks.

How can the mayor of one of Canada’s largest cities think that it is acceptable to fan the flames of division? Of course, he is one of many North American politicians to take the position that the vaccinated majority rule the high moral ground, while those who oppose the jab are selfish scoundrels risking people’s lives with their foolish behaviour, and therefore deserve to be ostracized.

People against the COVID-19 vaccines and especially a vaccine passport have every right to protest. For a variety of reasons, these folks are upset.

Rather than insult them, exacerbating the already-dramatic polarization that we have seen in recent months, how about considering more productive methods of influence? Perhaps even co-operation.

Willingness to listen and understand the reasons that people are protesting the passport would go a long way. Here are some examples:

·         Some have medical conditions that preclude them from being vaccinated.

·         Many believe a healthy immune system is the best defence against a virus that has been shown to cause mild or no symptoms in most healthy people.

·         Some have first- or second-hand experience with adverse vaccine reactions (from COVID or other vaccines), making them cautious observers until they have more information.

·         On balance, the risk of serious illness from COVID-19 is perceived as lower for these people than the unknowns of a new vaccine.

·         People are wary of the side effects of these vaccines. They were developed at “warp speed” (to use a term coined in the U.S. government’s famous vaccine-development operation), and, by definition, long-term effects are unknowable.

·         Modeling of complex natural processes is always uncertain, particularly with limited data over a short time period. Even in the case of something as common as influenza, widespread vaccinations did not lead to expected results. COVID-19 is definitely not the flu

Not a fan of fanning the flames of division

Chart 2: Actual hospitalization numbers due to influenza, relative to vaccination in Alberta.

Not a fan of fanning the flames of division

Chart 3: Deaths due to influenza in Alberta.

The media company I launched this year at BIG Media is all about tearing down walls and building bridges through intellectual empowerment. Our team of accomplished scientists seeks the most scientifically sound data and interpret it logically and without spin.

We at BIG Media are not anti-vaxxers, and we are not pro-vaxxers; we are simply on the side of truth and respect. Most days, we see progress. Other days, we see influential politicians undermining these gains with mean-spirited rhetoric that can only increase hostility among the stressed-out populace.

We have published content that documents the mostly positive history of vaccines Vaccines – a historical perspective, and we have published articles documenting the very low risk of COVID death Assessing the relative lethality of COVID-19: a Canadian case study, particularly for those without multiple comorbidities COVID context – how concerned should we be about dying from this virus?.

Let’s all try to give each other a little credit and look for common ground as opposed to vilifying those who do not see the world exactly as we see it.

Rob Driscoll
Rob Driscoll is co-founder and president of BIG Media Ltd. He is a writer and entrepreneur who is deeply committed to elevating the level of coverage of our society's most pressing matters as well as the level of respect in public discourse.

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