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Opinion: The World Must Choose: Health or Freedom

The society of the 21st century will enter a period of debates between public health and individual freedoms to be vaccinated or not against COVID-19 .

Two people wearing face masks trying to touch their hands

Today we face the doubt: freedom or health? In recent years, and perhaps without realizing it, we have had to give up various freedoms in exchange for taking care of each other. But is there a limit? Photo: Pexels

LatiAmerican Post | Santiago Gómez Hernández

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Leer en español: Opinión: El mundo deberá escoger: salud o libertad

In the dystopian world of George Orwell's renowned novel "1989", society had given up security for freedom. Totalitarian regimes won in exchange for guaranteeing security. Today we are faced with the question: freedom or health? In recent years, and perhaps without realizing it, we have had to give up various freedoms in exchange for taking care of each other. But is there a limit?

The coronavirus continues to be unpredictable. Despite the fact that several countries have achieved high immunization rates, in several cases, the virus continues to spread at a worrying rate.

In June, Israel was the first country to reach more than half of the population vaccinated and to have 85% of adults with their full doses. However, shortly after, he had to re-implement several measures against COVID-19. The Israeli government once again asked for the mandatory use of masks due to the increase in infections among its population.

The same seems to be happening in several European countries and in the United States, areas where immunization is much more advanced than in the rest of the world and which have had to tighten restrictions again. For example, France, Austria, Germany, Italy, among others, ask for certificates of vaccination, recovery, or a negative test to be able to attend events or closed places. The biggest cause of this rally, according to experts, is the Delta variant. This has proven to be much more contagious, aggressive, and with greater resistance to different vaccines. Apparently, the drugs that were supposed to be the cure for the pandemic are not miraculous and their effectiveness varies with respect to the variants.

Efficient but not 100% foolproof vaccines.

Serious or fatal cases of people already vaccinated have been recorded in several places. Although they are minor, compared to the unvaccinated, they do exist. Vaccines have saved lives, it is a fact, but they have not saved them all, and infections, although controlled, at times grow and there are fears for new waves. Studies have shown that with two doses of the Pfizer vaccine, the results against the Delta variant are 88% (similar to 93.7% of the parent virus), but with a single dose, the efficacy of immunity drops to 30.7% compared to 48.7% of the Alpha variant.


It is not a new topic

Since the pandemic began, and consequently the restrictive measures to reduce infections, several political leaders have expressed their concern, since they fear that, because of controlling public health, individual freedoms will be violated. Cases such as the use of applications and monitoring of positive cases through cell phones were considered by many, a security issue and a reason for concern. For others, a little more concerned, the simple fact of having greater confinement measures or the use of masks has been inconceivable.

Also read: Should we Delay COVID-19 Vaccination in Children?

Marches against these types of regulations by denial movements have taken to the streets, especially in the United States and Europe. They have received feedback from the information they find on the internet, but it is not entirely proven and they have been aligned with political movements and ideologies. It is not strange to see on social networks, how characters from the radical right, or from the American alternative right (a conservative movement close to the Republican party) entering supermarkets or public places without biosecurity measures as a form of political protest.

Beyond the striking nature of the protests or the difficulty of being able to understand these acts, often a bit extreme, we are entering a stage of assessment. Governments in Europe are making the decision to allow entry to nightclubs and restaurants (which could be expanded to theaters, cafes, shops, warehouses, etc.) only for people vaccinated or with negative PCR tests.

This "Green Pass" is a reality. This will put the COVID-19 anti-vaccines to decide. The alternatives are few: either have a recent PCR test or forget to enter restaurants and shops. Obviously, the cries of discrimination for the unvaccinated are already being heard and many legal experts in different countries are trying to define what premium: the individual freedoms not to be vaccinated or the public health of a vaccine that, no matter how effective it has been. proven to be, not 100% reliable either.

The debate remains:

Now, many other governments and societies have also discussed and studied the possibility of mandatory vaccination. But it would go against many laws and constitutions globally. Forced (or semi-forced) vaccination has been approved in several countries for specific groups: nursing home employees, health personnel, among others. It is not completely mandatory, but if you want to keep your job, you will have to get vaccinated.

Against this background, the most difficult but less violent alternative will always be education. No one can be forced to get vaccinated, but we will have to convince them and disprove the huge amount of false and unsupported news that travels the internet. The theories of the Bill Gates chip or 5G will have to be fought with pedagogy.

Will we reach a panorama in which there are discos, bars, cafes, schools, universities, etc. for vaccinated people and others for the unvaccinated? Definitely, all the countries of the world will have to take a position and decide to what extent public health will exceed the freedom of speech in each person. Both positions have strong arguments for and against. What is your position?