The European Union has set out its commitment to the continued use of lockdowns, mask mandates, vaccine passports and other restrictions this winter to control the spread of COVID-19, and also to the creation of a “legally binding” global pandemic treaty with a “reinforced WHO at its centre”.
Daily Sceptic –
The document, published on September 2nd and titled “EU response to COVID-19: preparing for autumn and winter 2023“, was prepared by the EU Commission (the EU executive) and sent to the EU Parliament. It reveals how much in thrall to the new biosecurity orthodoxy the EU leadership is and bodes ill for the future management of contagious disease in the bloc and globally.
On lockdowns and other restrictions, it proposes a framework of “key indicators to assess when deciding on reintroducing non-pharmaceutical measures”. These indicators include severe disease and hospital occupancy data, and importantly are stated to relate not just to COVID-19 but to influenza as well, making this potentially part of normal winter disease management, continuing indefinitely.
It suggests mask mandates as a “first option to limit community transmission”, giving a preference for FFP2 masks.
[Face mask] use in closed public spaces, including public transport, can be a first option to limit community transmission. Recent evidence shows that FFP2 face masks, which are readily available in the EU/EEA, have a stronger protective effect than medical masks or cloth masks in the community. Member States are therefore strongly encouraged to consider their use in specific settings.
The document recommends the pre-emptive imposition of work-from-home and gathering limits before any rise in infections to try to avoid the “need for more disruptive ones such as lock downs, closing businesses and schools, stay-at-home recommendations and travel restrictions”. It stresses the need for “political commitment” to make lockdowns and other measures work.
Other measures such as working from home or limiting the size of mass gatherings have proved effective to limit transmission of the virus. When implemented ahead of increases in cases, these measures can avoid the need for more disruptive ones such as lock downs, closing businesses and schools, stay-at-home recommendations and travel restrictions. Political commitment and community engagement are key for the success and the effectiveness of non-pharmaceutical measures.
The one welcome aspect of the document was the clear statement to avoid disrupting children’s education and lives any further, though even here school closures were not ruled out.
The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted the lives of children and adolescents affecting their everyday routines, education, health, development and overall well-being. It is therefore important to keep in mind the negative impacts of school disruptions on the health and development of children. The implementation of measures at schools should be aimed to be kept at a minimum and the further loss of learning should be prevented.
The document discourages travel restrictions – freedom of travel and the elimination of internal borders being an article of faith for the EU. However, it recommends use of the EU Digital Covid Certificate (i.e., vaccine passport, though it also recognises natural immunity) wherever travel restrictions are “necessary”, boasting about how widely it is already used.
Member States can make use of the EU Digital Covid Certificate in case the epidemiological situation this autumn and winter makes it necessary for countries to temporarily reintroduce travel restrictions. The EU Digital Covid Certificate Regulation, which has been extended until June 2023, provides the necessary framework to manage the impact of restrictions on free movement and to facilitate travel. It ensures that citizens can benefit from interoperable and mutually accepted certificates of COVID-19 vaccination, test and recovery. In principle, holders of valid EU Digital Covid Certificates should not be subject to any additional restrictions when travelling within the EU.
The EU Digital Covid Certificate has been a major success in providing the public with a tool that is accepted and trusted across the EU (and in several third countries) and in avoiding fragmentation of multiple national systems. As of August 1st 2022, 75 countries and territories from across five continents are connected to the EU Digital Certificate system (30 EU/EEA Member States and 45 non-EU countries and territories), and several more countries have expressed interest in joining the gateway or are already engaged in technical discussions with the Commission. This makes the EU Digital Covid Certificate a global standard.
The EU Digital COVID Certificate system is sufficiently flexible to adapt to the evolution of the COVID-19 response. Possible adaptations to the validity period of certificates issued for the first booster may become necessary in light of further scientific evidence and the evolution of the pandemic.
What this fails to mention, of course, is any rationale for the passes. What’s the point of restricting the travel of the unvaccinated (or not-sufficiently-vaccinated) when the vaccinated are no less likely to spread the disease? This key question is entirely unaddressed.
On vaccination, the document provides 15 “objectives”, “priorities” and “actions” for COVID-19 vaccination strategies. These include the “priority” of encouraging take-up of the original vaccine (that’s right, for the extinct Covid strains) among all eligible children and adolescents, and an action point of making sure GPs are spending enough of their time vaccinating people (don’t they have anything else to do?). It suggests administering boosters as often as every three months, implying they are little use after six months. It also encourages governments to counter “misinformation” in the media and online to ensure “clear, consistent and evidence-based messaging demonstrating the continued safety and effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines”. It links worries about vaccine safety with “anti-Western and anti-EU narratives” and with websites which also go off-narrative on the Ukraine war. The vaccine action points include (emphasis mine):
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