Rumours quickly cir­cu­lated about the UK gov­ern­ment plan­ning to deploy the armed forces onto the streets of Lon­don to enforce quar­ant­ine over the COV­ID-19 pan­dem­ic. A shiver ran down my spine as I had a flash­back to walk­ing the streets of occu­pied Palestine whilst being watched by Israeli snipers. I could not help but make a men­tal con­nec­tion. It raises the ques­tion to wheth­er these are hints of the UK mov­ing towards becom­ing a police state and where to draw the line between the free­dom of choice and the infringe­ment of human rights, mak­ing informed decisions and the spread of fake news?

As Palestini­ans went into quar­ant­ine, life was not too dif­fer­ent from liv­ing under the Israeli occu­pa­tion, the con­stant sur­veil­lance, and restric­tion on their free­dom of move­ment. For us here in the West it was an ali­en concept, caus­ing mass hys­teria. Scared hoarders accu­mu­lated in large groups to stock up on toi­let paper, prob­ably doub­ling the infec­tion rate in the pro­cess. The media played its part in scare­mon­ger­ing by shar­ing false inform­a­tion and by using inflam­mat­ory head­lines. Everything became polar­ized to draw atten­tion and make sales. A prime example was a story around a sci­entif­ic paper pub­lished in the Lan­cet where sci­ent­ists had just begun to study the nov­el vir­us, ‘Are patients with hyper­ten­sion and dia­betes mel­litus at increased risk for COV­ID-19 infec­tion? Lei Fang, George Karaki­ula­kis & Michael Roth. It hypo­thes­izes that dia­betes and hyper­ten­sion treat­ment with ACE2-stim­u­lat­ing drugs (ibupro­fen) increases the risk of devel­op­ing severe and fatal COV­ID-19. Whilst this obser­va­tion was true in the study it was irre­spons­ible of the media to share as one study in one pop­u­la­tion type is not con­clus­ive evid­ence for it to become a pub­lic health recom­mend­a­tion. With­in hours every­one was refus­ing to take ibupro­fen, frus­trat­ing doc­tors and phar­macists who were left with massive stock­pile and no real evid­ence to sup­port it was dan­ger­ous to pre­scribe. The same thing is cur­rently going on with the recom­mend­a­tion to use Mal­aria med­ic­a­tion as a treat­ment for COV­ID-19, it has shown prom­ise, but clin­ic­al tri­als need to hap­pen before this can be proven.

That is treat­ment but sci­ent­ists agree bat­tling COV­ID-19 should begin with con­trolling the rate of infec­tion, to put few­er lives at risk. Pre­ven­tion is bet­ter than cure, why then has our gov­ern­ment taken such slow action? Is the eco­nomy more import­ant than human lives? Fol­low­ing on from watch­ing events unfold in China, Iran and Italy, the UK gov­ern­ment has still not offi­cially called for a lock­down, many res­taur­ants and gyms (per­fect grounds for the spread of infec­tion) remain open stat­ing they will only fol­low advice from Bor­is. Giv­en that we can­not all stay in quar­ant­ine for two years wait­ing for a vac­cine to be developed, the government’s form of dam­age con­trol was to go for a dif­fer­ent approach of, ‘herd immunity’ which has been deemed irre­spons­ible by some sci­ent­ists. The aim was for a 60% infec­tion rate in the hope the pop­u­la­tion will become immun­ised to a level which will mean they will not become re-infec­ted at anoth­er time and thus infect oth­ers. Whilst in the­ory this has its bene­fits, it is a highly risky strategy to apply to a nov­el deadly vir­us, which is guar­an­teed to res­ult in many deaths before mass immun­isa­tion is achieved. This has been inter­preted by some as a form of eugen­ics, the government’s attempt to remove the eld­erly and immun­o­com­prom­ised from soci­ety which will then cost the gov­ern­ment less in med­ic­al bills and pen­sions. The evid­ence sug­gests herd immunity only works if 90% or above of the pop­u­la­tion are immun­ized, which is much high­er than the government’s sug­ges­ted 60%. Com­monly herd immunity is induced by the pro­cess of mass vac­cin­a­tions. The case study of measles shows it is only effect­ive if almost every­one is vac­cin­ated. If a few people refuse the vac­cin­a­tion right­fully out of their free­dom of choice fur­ther out­breaks are likely to still occur. These may then put the rest of the pop­u­la­tion in danger includ­ing the immun­o­com­prom­ised. Even those who have been pre­vi­ously vac­cin­ated are at risk of rein­fec­tion as no vac­cine is 100% guar­an­teed to work (it is based on the individual’s immune response, which also hap­pens with nat­ur­al for­eign bod­ies). If every­one had been vac­cin­ated Measles would have been irra­di­ated from soci­ety. Vac­cine hes­it­ancy is lis­ted in the top ten threat to glob­al health, res­ult­ing in 2–3 mil­lion deaths per year. Anoth­er strong argu­ment to call for the erad­ic­a­tion of all dis­eases in soci­ety for which we have vac­cines is that vir­uses are prone to muta­tions. If the vir­us mutates it will render herd immunity and vac­cines use­less, fur­ther mak­ing unne­ces­sary deaths even more reck­less.

This poses an inter­est­ing ques­tion of wheth­er it is eth­ic­al to force vac­cin­a­tions onto a pop­u­la­tion. There is a social respons­ib­il­ity to keep every­one safe and reduce the bur­den on the health­care sys­tem and eco­nomy, but is the price of this too high if it means remov­ing free­dom of choice? Den­mark has already passed a bill to enforce quar­ant­ine and vac­cin­a­tions to the COV­ID-19 once it is finally developed. This has angered anti-vac­cine act­iv­ists who want to want the right to refuse what goes into their bod­ies and believe vac­cines cause more dam­age than good but this is often based on false inform­a­tion or a low num­ber of cases in com­par­is­on to what would be hun­dreds of deaths. Medi­cine has always been about the risk-bene­fit ratio. No vac­cine is cre­ated equal and the vac­cines of yes­ter­day are not the same as the ones avail­able today. As tech­no­logy advances with the likes of cheap­er gen­ome sequen­cing, we are mov­ing towards a more per­son­al­ized health­care which will even­tu­ally be catered towards indi­vidu­als thus redu­cing the risk of side effects, but there is still a very long way to go.

Con­spir­acy the­or­ists are spec­u­lat­ing on the ori­gins of the vir­us and who will bene­fit from the ‘cure’, mak­ing pre­sump­tions about the valid­ity of sci­ence. Now is the time to focus on a solu­tion and sav­ing lives. A time to sep­ar­ate gov­ern­ment polices from sci­entif­ic research, and be mind­ful of the mis­in­form­a­tion which exists in the media that is manip­u­lated by a polit­ic­al agenda.

Let’s not become divided by our suf­fer­ing but work togeth­er as nature inten­ded for the sake of our own sur­viv­al as the human race.


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Faizah Cyanide

Faizah Cyanide

Faizah works in clin­ic­al research by pro­fes­sion and has been an avid Hip Hop lov­er since the early 90’s, hav­ing cre­ated her own Hip Hop event, ‘Breakin’ Bound­ar­ies’ in the early 2000’s which was pre­dom­in­antly based around the concept of bboy battles, she has worked with sev­er­al inter­na­tion­al events pro­moters and dan­cers to inspire oth­ers through this art­form.

About Faizah Cyanide

Faizah Cyanide
Faizah works in clinical research by profession and has been an avid Hip Hop lover since the early 90's, having created her own Hip Hop event, 'Breakin' Boundaries' in the early 2000's which was predominantly based around the concept of bboy battles, she has worked with several international events promoters and dancers to inspire others through this artform.