PROvax or ANTIvax?

Why this insoluble conflict?

Difficult debate with the hardening of the parties. However, it is not the same type of radicalization: individual in antivax, ” I do not want to be vaccinated”, collective in provax, “Vaccination only makes sense widely followed”. Second important point: acceptance and refusal are not opposites. They each have their own motivations and belong to different parts of the personality.

My place? Doctor welcoming people in a vaccination center, I met the whole range of opinions, from the enthusiastic rushing for his 3rd injection from the opening, to the disapprover resigning himself to avoid losing his job, through the circumspect heckled by the contradictory information. Of course I am not dealing with the militant antivax core, but know it to have two colleagues who are part of it. Additional clarification: I was not provax of the 1st hour, and still think that the policy of selective protection of people at risk would have been preferable. At least at first, because today this is no longer the case. The collective has condemned itself to mass vaccination. But let’s not go too fast.

Anarchy or democracy?

The Covid crisis has revealed a major change in society: most people think they live in anarchy and not a democracy. Anarchy is not a disorder; it is a system where citizens give themselves similar responsibilities and powers. No leader, no slave. Everything is decided by agreement between equals. If the negotiation fails, each minority lives in its own way, without taking into account the opinion of the others, and assumes the consequences of its choice. The minority can be reduced to a solitary individual. Even the whole of all the others has no bar on him, not in an anarchy.

Democracy is different on two points: the opinion of the majority is binding on all; and there is a representative hierarchy exercising power. Even if president and deputies are accountable to all voters, they decide for the collective without consulting the rank and file, supported by an administration itself highly hierarchical. You don’t have to be born in the last century to see the transformation of contemporary democracies into anarchy. This is a rather beneficial result in small culturally homogeneous communities, rather disastrous in large national melting pots. Example of the beneficial side: Iceland, which thought of electing its president by lot, so much the result would make little difference. On the disastrous side: European countries with a strong migratory component, with severe contrasts between city and countryside, which break up into radical factions led by flamboyant populist figures.

What does this have to do with our vaccine? It is essential. Anarchists do not recognize the pre-eminence of the collective or even deny its existence. Cult of the individual-king. Priority to my personal universe. I am looking for similar opinions to make it inalienable. For the anarchist, the small group replaces the collective. While for the democrat, the existence of multiple fighting opinions requires granting greater power to the collective. At the risk of allowing chaos to take hold, conflicts between communities transformed into gangs. This power is based on the two principles mentioned: majority opinion and hierarchy of expertise. The authority of consensus is imposed on the democrat, who accepts social contingency. But the individual-king, anarchist, does not understand it that way. There is no power above his conviction and that of his clones. Democrat and anarchist do not live in the same society. This is one of the keys to understanding the gap between pro and antivax.

Individual versus collective interest

The arguments of antivax relate to individual interest. Adverse reactions concern individuals; curative treatments as well; the terror of the “experimental” vaccine is personal. The arguments of the provax relate to the herd interest: immunity of the population, protection of fragile groups, benefit greater than the risk to the community. These two interests are divergent rather than contradictory. They awaken in us different parts of the personality. The demonstration is a caricature at the vaccination centre. Mothers, champions of collectivism, bring reluctant young adults by begging them to listen to us. Egotists, champions of individualism, storm against deprivation of liberty, warn against the suffocating pressure of multinationals, have above all a deep and infantile fear of being taken for a guinea pig (after 5 billion doses). To this end, they exacerbate the dangers of vaccination. They obviously snub the center (when they are not in front with signs to deter entry), but their influence is obvious. Many people present themselves with marked anxiety, even some are almost catatonic, petrified by the contradictory fears of the virus and the vaccine. Guarantee of a nocebo effect and a more harmful feeling after the injection. Thank you antivax.

Perhaps the most glaring inconsistency of antivax is to see militant environmentalists among them. They demand radical deprivations of individual liberty to save the planet and at the same time are outraged when the government imposes them for epidemiological purposes. Should we consider the ‘all-living’ as superior to its parts or not? It’s a problem, all the same, to be holistic only when it suits us. So let’s try to keep in mind this presence of collective benefit to examine the details of the pro and antivax arguments.

The defensible arguments of antivax

From an individual point of view, antivax is quite right: a majority of us do not have a major interest in getting vaccinated. The risk of severe form remains modest. A possible initial policy was to hide the old and the frail, then vaccinate them, and let the others run. Certainly the congested resuscitations would have sorted their entrants even more. But let us be the devil’s advocate (egocentric): by a certain justice the unsaved patients are those with the lowest life expectancy, who in addition have not respected carefully enough (or their entourage) the protective measures. From the point of view of the healthy individual who is afraid of getting vaccinated, it does not make much sense to take risks for these people. Moreover, a good part of the old people courageously declared that they did not want to see the young sacrifice themselves for them.

It therefore takes a clearly collectivist point of view to say: let us protect these people in spite of themselves. Let us not turn anyone away from the hospital. Everyone must make an effort to this end.

Obsessed with the idea of losing their freedom of choice, antivaxs are forcing the line on alternatives to the vaccine. Since the beginning of the epidemic they have come out of the hat of pseudo-curative treatments, accusing the provax of truncating or delaying positive studies about them. This is to forget that the provax are also those who take care of the hospitalized, that they continually test new treatments to relieve their resuscitation. Laymen are not recipients of these essays multiplied over the past two years, especially the negative ones. The researchers dream of being the new Raoult, this time praised by his peers for an infallible successor to the disappointing hydroxychloroquine.

Some molecules are encouraging, none has won the conviction (statistical) so far. Each is scrutinized with the same impartiality as ivermectin or ritonavir. Always angry with consistency, antivaxs attach little importance to the toxic effects of these treatments (in a disease they consider benign) while they scrutinize under an electron microscope those of vaccines. There are also nasty labs looking to sell juicy containers of vaccine to the highest bidder, and good guys handing out ivermectin at cost. Satan plays the blacks, God the whites. Who will take the market?

The circumspect are thus worried about an ‘all-vaccine’ policy to the detriment of alternative preventive treatments and curatives. It is mixing approaches that do not compete in any way, except the distribution of costs. Let’s see this:

Collective, individual, and curative preventive

The vaccine is the most ambitious preventive treatment. It aims to prevent the spread of the virus and if possible to eradicate it. Collective approach. The more contagious, mutagenic, incompletely blocked by the vaccine, the more widely vaccine is needed.

Other preventive treatments are individual. None is yet conclusive against placebo. Why not take a placebo? OK as long as it doesn’t have dangerous side effects and diverts resources from more vital approaches. Antivax are as acerbic against vaccines as they are sheepish in the face of alternatives. Effective skeptics are attentive scientists, today provax in the vast majority. Better preventive treatment? The correct management of comorbidities, hampered by containment measures. The rapid end of restrictions is indeed an imperative for individuals.

Curative treatments are also individual. Most are more expensive and more complicated to produce than the large-scale vaccine. We must add the cost of having let the disease settle. A day in intensive care costs €3,000, excluding pharmacy. The sequelae in the patient are not quantifiable.

Ideally, a good preventive policy makes curative treatments useless and reduces sequelae. No serious competitor to the vaccine, from this angle? So resources must be devoted primarily to mass vaccination. This is a basic epidemiological conclusion. Provided that we do not deny the existence of the collective level as do the antivax, relentless in concealing it in favor of only individual preventive and curative approaches.

To denigrate mass vaccination is to make it lose any chance of success. The militant antivax core makes a relative observation of failure while it is he who is the cause. Recall that this movement came from a ridiculously small number of influencers but steeped in an anti-lab, antivax and anti-health authority fanaticism dating from before the appearance of Covid.

Didn’t the crowd self-contain?

It should also be remembered that the policy followed over the past two years is the result of the majority pressures in the population before that of epidemiological experts. Management is ethical as a priority over economic. It is the collective that has called for the control of the number of deaths, the care of all the sick, and the reduction of the epidemic. Politicians have logically demanded the urgent development of vaccines. Those with RNA have saved 2 to 3 years on conventional vaccines. This is a spectacular success of the laboratories to meet the demands of the population and not a desire to make risky experiments on them…

These legitimate expectations about death control have mechanically triggered restrictions on freedom of movement. The crowd went into self-containment. It has also condemned itself to mass vaccination, since this policy is the only one currently able to end the restrictions. But it will only achieve this with very wide coverage, which is resisted by a large population bubble. Bubble centered by a small core of convinced anarchists, surrounded by a fringe of self-convinced Internet users to have become science journalists after rapid training on the networks, and finally an outer layer of disoriented people, in contact with the provax, who end up landing at the center when the virus knocks on their door, often having killed relatives.

Is herd immunity just a challenge?

Antivax torpedo mass vaccination by pointing to the challenge of herd immunity that they have decided to make impossible before seeing the effects. The eradication of the virus does indeed seem difficult to achieve, due to animal variants and reservoirs, like the flu. Nevertheless, the antivax echo the simplistic “We must learn to live with the virus”, while the right conclusion is “We still need time to control it properly”. Research is an ongoing dynamic. This time will be reduced to a few years while it took a century to get rid of smallpox. In the wake of the fight against Covid, great therapeutic advances are pointing to other diseases. Covid, the savior of humanity? For now, it is a question of limiting the number of people who will pay the price.

Some lesser-known provax arguments

The risks inherent in vaccination are indeed not non-existent. But their rarity must encourage the same behavior as with the seat belt: you put it on knowing that in the event of an accident your chances of having your life saved are much higher than those of dying because of the belt. Ditto for the vaccine; your chances of avoiding serious complications are much higher than those of having them with him.

Vaccination of young people is legal, even if they are almost free of severe forms and less contagious than adults, for two reasons: they still contribute to the spread and their effective defenses probably favor the emergence of more resistant variants. The rare myocarditis in young people is of favorable evolution. Generally speaking, the longer and more widely the virus persists in the population, the greater the chances of the appearance of an aggressive variant.

Run to get vaccinated. Two doses to avoid perhaps, later, having to do one every year.


See also:
Hierarchy synthesis

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