The Malta Independent 27 November 2021, Saturday

The anti-vax voice refuses to be silenced

Noel Grima Sunday, 14 November 2021, 07:57 Last update: about 13 days ago

In general, I find that public opinion, based mostly on the main news portals that turn out to be related to the two main political parties, is starved of really relevant news in these troubled times.

After some initial showing of anti-vax protests, these portals have fallen silent. But the protests have continued, on a daily basis, in Rome, Milan, in Paris and elsewhere. Even in these countries the official news portals remain silent. But the alternative portals, including the Russian portal and some private ones, continue showing direct screening of the protests in real time.

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In Malta, as we know, there has only been one protest, manned mostly by expats. So many might think the emergency is over.

Yet the numbers of infected people keeps rising. This regardless of the fact that vaccinations have reached a record high by European levels.

Looking outside Malta we learn that the number of infected cases has spiked. And with the airport still open, although those coming in are all vaccinated, it is a safe bet that infections here will increase.

The Maltese public looks around and wonders if the current state of play is determined, as is claimed, by the spread of Covid, or whether other factors are intruding.

Such as politics and the coming general election. Elections in Malta are traditionally occasions of big mass meetings with people ignoring the rules of distancing. Other countries have reintroduced mass events such as football matches. Yet here other mass events such as festas are still banned.

Many have concluded that there may be other factors at play. People are growing suspicious about what they are being told. Take vaccinations for example. At first it was said that most of the new infections were in non-vaccinated persons. Then, when the numbers kept rising, it was said that vaccinated persons could still get infected, though not in a serious manner.

Yet the pressure to get vaccinated is being ratcheted up all over the world. Here in Malta we had a half-hearted attempt to get restaurants choose to be exclusively for vaccinated people but it does not seem to have worked out. Across Europe you have to show the Green Pass to board a plane, a train. Elsewhere, such as in Singapore, people without a vaccine have to pay for hospitalisation.

In the absence of clear, certifiable, news people believe anything. Hence the rumours about sudden deaths and other supposed consequences of the vaccine. In conjunction with pre-existing conditions or not.

I find more people who say they have been vaccinated than those who have really taken the jab. Until a Green Pass can be developed that one can show upon request, and until such a time when the right infrastructure can be developed and put in place to allow only vaccinated people to access, there is still a margin of freedom. This is what the protesters try to preserve, but it still is an uphill climb and the pressure is getting to restrict it further.

There is more than a tinge of paranoia in what the anti-Vax people are saying. The latest to join the voices was the former Nuncio to Washington, Mgr Vigano’, already notorious as a public critic of Pope Francis, who said this week ‘they' have been lying to people for two years, imposing the mask and social distancing when none was really needed.

He was joined, as a feature on RAI showed, by traditional Catholics who claimed that some anti-Covid vaccines came from abortion by-products.

The ‘freedom marches’, as they are being called, are becoming quite violent, so much so that Interior Minister Lamorgese has decreed they must not be allowed in the centre of cities. There have also been cases where journalists covering the protest were beaten up to cries of “Giornalista terrorista”.

Now on the face of it, these thoughts and concerns might seem to be completely absent from the Maltese scene. But people are no fools. They know what is going on far more than one would think. Through personal contacts they know this free and easy environment will last only till the day after the election. They know the circle will be tightened or else the infections will spike up. And they are worrying freedom is about to be curtailed.

Others are not so scared and point out other vaccination programs had to be enforced and the world was better as a result. Although right now there does not seem to be any area of compromise between the two sides, the development of a pill or new and better medication will hopefully put this divide in the past.

 

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