The Covid show must go on!

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Like all other establishment institutions, the think-tank industry in Australia was wholly compliant with the official Covid narrative so it is no surprise that a prime representative of the ‘public policy research’ species, the Grattan Institute, with its latest report, A Fair Shot: How to close the vaccination gap, continues with the stale old melodrama about helpless Australians trapped in the clutches of an evil virus with only the hero Covid vaccine able to save them at the eleventh hour. Grattan has, however, expanded the dramatis personae to give other adult vaccines a starring role, despite the increasingly lukewarm reviews given to them by a jaded audience.

The ‘alarming’ (to Grattan) vaccination stats

The report laments how just 8 per cent of all Australians are currently up-to-date with their latest Covid booster (down from the 98 per cent who, gladly or glumly, took the primary two-dose course) whilst ‘vulnerable’ Australians (basically those aged over 75) have also dropped their guard with only 38 per cent of these being fully ‘Covid-proofed’ (as Grattan sees it) prior to the winter just passed (a rate which has now slipped even further to 27 per cent, they despairingly add). Even the seriously co-morbid very old (mainly nursing home residents) are showing a lack of Covid vaccine zeal, with fewer than four in ten people in residential aged care being fully vaccinated for Covid.

Not only are too many Australians way too Covid-lax, according to Grattan, but they are also opting to decline other vaccines. Only 27 per cent of all Australians, and only 63 per cent of Australians aged over 65, were vaccinated for flu before the 2023 winter. Less than half of older Australians are vaccinated against shingles and only one in five are vaccinated against pneumococcal disease.

Motivating’ the adult vaccine decliners

To rekindle the cooling ardour for vaccines of all kinds, Grattan wants to see the same setting of vaccination targets for adults as applies for school-age children, the latter which have been set at 95 per cent population coverage and which have been accompanied by financial penalty (the ‘no jab no pay’ denial of Commonwealth family tax benefits and the ‘no jab no play’ denial of early childhood education access courtesy of most state governments).

Grattan leaves the question hanging that if mandates and financial penalties can be justified for childhood vaccination, then why not for adult vaccination? For the moment, however, Grattan is forced to be content to advocate for vaccination propaganda ‘surges’ in the lead-up to every winter, including SMS reminders for ‘high-risk’ adults and targeted vaccination events in aged care and disability care homes.

‘Better’ communication (featuring ‘frequent media conferences’ and ‘social marketing campaigns’) will be the weapon of choice for these ‘surges’ because the decline in adult vaccination must, of course, be attributed to a failure of marketing and can in no way be ascribed to the failure of a defective product. Progressives love to cite ‘lived experience’ for approved, Woke victim groups, but this rubric will be disallowed as a reason for Covid vaccination falling off a cliff and taking down other adult vaccines in the process. The ‘lived experience’ of the negative sequelae of Covid vaccination doesn’t count for the true Covid policy maniacs who regard such things as dangerous ‘misinformation’.

Grattan is also silent on the true value of the flu vaccine product – their efficacy (against serious illness or death – to cite the most generous official government figures here and here), struggles to top 60 per cent and can be as low as 30 per cent, and even these fairly modest figures decrease significantly with increasing age, for a virus which infects as little as 5 per cent and, at most, 20 per cent of the population.

No one is to be exempt from the ‘surge’ offensive. Although the report acknowledges that a ‘recent infection or vaccination’ provides ‘strong immunity’, it blithely passes over this bedrock principle of immunology to exhort even the strongly immune to participate in the great vaccine festivals they envisage when it says that ‘during surges, high-risk people should be able to get vaccinated even if they have had a recent infection or injection’.

Grattan is hopelessly stuck in a Covid timewarp when vaccination (and mandates and passports and masks and all the rest of the pandemic theatre) were undertaken for the sake of it as an obsequious demonstration of political compliance and fealty to the ‘experts’ who ran our lives for the duration of the Covid hysteria and to whom Grattan continues to show undiminished deference, including for the forthcoming Australian Centre for Disease Control which, Grattan asserts, will become the ‘trusted source of information’ (well, at least trusted by Grattan).

Lies and trust – an inverse correlation

Grattan is so thoroughly wedded to the glorious wonders of the Covid vaccines that they cannot admit that it may be the on-the-ground reality of the Covid vaccines that is driving down trust in other adult vaccines. Many people must now surely be wondering that, if the authorities lied or misled us inadvertently or otherwise about the Covid vaccines (which don’t work as we were led to believe but it now appears can make you very ill), then what else have they lied about on the adult vaccine front? Trust once abused is hard to get back.

Grattan is like Claudine Gay, the ex-President of Harvard, who said in her angry ‘leaving-you-now’ resignation letter that her ouster was a ‘warning’ about the larger strategy to ‘unravel public faith in pillars of American society… Trusted institutions of all types – from public health agencies to news organisations – will continue to fall victim to coordinated attempts to undermine their legitimacy and ruin their leaders’ credibility’. I should certainly hope so, because, with Covid, we should never have trusted these institutions to begin with – their pandemic policy voodoo achieved a big, fat zero at great human and economic cost.

If the public health authorities want our trust back, they have to earn it. They could start by being honest about what they did to us through their pseudoscience and then atone with some Royal Commission-type accountability. A change of heart, wouldn’t go astray, either. Even a bit of remorse, or contrition, perhaps. Some transparency on the whole government drug assessment and approval process instead of drug regulators simply chaperoning pharma products through bureaucratic hoops. Until our health governors do so, they will deserve all the undermining they get. Accountability came for Harvard – may it do so for our Covid ruling class.

The Covid Czars could also try treating Australian adults as adults by allowing us to make our own informed, personal health decisions. Want to become a hermit and never leave the house? Be my guest. Want to wear a mask? Knock yourself out. Want to get a vaccination? Go for it. Just don’t compel anyone else to do so. End of.

The Woke Angle

The punchline to an old joke about that Woke weathervane, the New York Times, is that if the global apocalypse were nigh, the paper’s headline would read World Ends Tomorrow! Women and Minorities Hardest Hit! and, as no ‘respectable’ report worth its money these days can pass up the opportunity to make a song and dance about Woke victim groups being top of the hit list, so, naturally, Grattan does a NYT on the socially disparate effect of vaccination coverage.

At the pinnacle of Grattan’s totem pole of Woke victim groups are Indigenous and ethnic Australians. Grattan bemoans that ‘if you don’t speak English at home, you are only half as likely to get recommended Covid vaccinations. If you are Indigenous, you are a third less likely’. As for the flu vaccine, the coverage rate for Indigenous people is only 16 per cent, and for ‘high-risk’ migrants not proficient in English it is only 48 per cent, compared to 62 per cent of ‘high-risk’ English-speaking Australians. More paternalistic ‘protection’ is coming your ways, guys.

The report is also ‘concerned’ by vaccination differences based on education level – ‘people who have a bachelor or postgraduate degree are 37 per cent more likely to be vaccinated against Covid than people who didn’t finish high school’. The report makes no comment that this divide rather neatly illustrates the difference between being smart but ‘uneducated’ and being ‘educated’ but not necessarily smart.

An elite think-tank for the elite

The Grattan report dovetails nicely with the abysmal performance by all Australian governments on Covid. If Grattan were to join the institutions that have burnt through their trust because of their Covid derangement, then it would be well and truly deserved.

This article is a republication of an article originally published here by the Spectator Australia.

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Author

  • Phil Shannon

    A former high school teacher (English and Maths) and Commonwealth public servant (mostly spent in the Department of Health), I have watched on with stunned amazement at how the world, with 'experts' in the lead, lost all composure over Covid. I blog at lockdownunder@substack.com and some of my Covid-themed articles are published at The Spectator https://www.spectator.com.au/author/phil-shannon/

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