We continue to be humbled by the COVID learning process, and unfortunately one of the things we’re learning is that, though the vaccines provide strong protection against death and serious illness, initial hopes that they would also guard against infection and transmission have been pretty comprehensively rebutted by facts. Sad, and maybe surprising, but true: vaccinated people get infected and pass on the virus. As Bill Gates put it, “We didn’t have vaccines that block transmission. We got vaccines that help you with your health, but they only slightly reduce the transmission. We need a new way of doing the vaccines.”
If anything, vaccinated people pose more of a danger to get infected, at least in the UK right now. The Spectator columnist Lionel Shriver notes, “In every age group over 30 in the UK, the rates of Covid infection per 100,000 are now higher among the vaxxed than the unvaxxed. Indeed, in the cohorts aged between 40 and 79, infection rates among the vaccinated are more than twice as high as among the unvaccinated.”
Shriver brings up a fine point: Why do we bother with this elaborate process of separating the vaccinated and the unvaccinated? If you’re sitting in a room with lots of vaccinated people, you are at much the same risk you would face among lots of unvaccinated people. Granted, if you are vaccinated, the risk of suffering serious illness if you get infected is minimal. But this impulse to shun and banish the unvaccinated seems utterly pointless.
Shriver calls what we’re doing “COVID apartheid” and says it must end. Is she wrong? If vaccinated people can spread the virus nearly as easily as the unvaccinated, why bother making sharp distinctions? The answer, it seems obvious to both me and Shriver, is that elites simply have a knee-jerk loathing of unvaccinated people and want to socially sanction them with all possible weapons. “The myth of ultra-contagious anti-vaxxers dispersing plague like rats in the Middle Ages has fostered gratuitous rancour and division,” Shriver writes. “A friend in New York declared recently that she hoped all the unvaccinated would simply die.”