Jazz Moreton writes about Coventry’s latest anti-covid-safety protest Image © Alan Van Wijgerden
Their slogans are seductive in their simplicity. And after more than five years of a government that’s “had enough of experts”, it’s no surprise that adults of all ages appear to have chosen to understand beliefs as facts worth proudly brandishing on what look like professionally printed placards.
Our photojournalist, Alan Van Wijgerden, captured the group (pictured) of protesters, proudly brandishing anti-vaccination and anti-regulation placards in Coventry City Centre just two days before Christmas. Although our current government seem, perhaps, to have put as few regulations that might help to ensure public safety, health, and wellbeing in place as possible, the group- and others like them- seemed set on making their displeasure known, proudly posing for a photograph.
One placard seems to want the NHS- possibly this nations greatest treasure- to remain a national- rather than a privatised- service, while at the same time protesting the use of vaccine passports, which are currently only being used to get into nightclubs, indoor unseated venues with more than five-hundred people, and any venue with more than ten-thousand people. Today, I listened to an ICU doctor on a radio phone-in begging anyone that’s yet to have the covid vaccine to have it because the NHS is under immense pressure and most severely-ill covid patients that he’s seen are yet to have the vaccine. I am astounded by the logical fallacy emblazoned on the aforementioned placard of wanting the NHS to remain the excellent public service that it is, yet protesting the use of a measure that might help to ensure that the NHS does not become overwhelmed (which means that all the beds will be full and there won’t be space or resources to treat anybody else).
Writing as an artist during Coventry’s City of Culture year, it is fascinating to have observed anti-vax subcultures rearing their heads and drawing members of the public into their anti-science, anti-fact world. We have, of course, seen defiant movements pop up since around 2015, when David Cameron was re-elected on the basis of a promise to organise a referendum on whether the country should leave, or remain in, the European Union.
Writing as somebody in their late twenties, I believe that the anti-vax movement began when Andrew Wakefield published a 1998 paper in medical journal The Lancet, which incorrectly looked at a correlation between the age at which children receive the MMR vaccine and the signs of autism first becoming noticeable. I have worked- before the pandemic- with people with learning disabilities including autism, and can state as fact that autism can affect people whether or not they’ve had a single vaccine.
We also know that the effects of covid- and long-covid, come to that- can be far worse, more far-ranging, and can severely affect a greater proportion of people than the side-effects of the covid vaccine.
Almost all scientists and medical professionals strongly recommend having the vaccine, and to find the odd person claiming to be a doctor and urging the public to avoid it must surely be similar to searching out a dentist who recommends that patients regularly consume sugary drinks just because it’s what the patient wants to believe.