Green pass, vaccination mandates, and collective madness

In the last few days, the Italian political debate has gone mad on a thorny issue: the enabling of the green pass as the key to participating in social activities. As always, our beautiful country is basically divided into two opposing factions, favorable and unfavorable, which, between one insult and another, throw at each other arguments based mainly on one’s hatred of one’s neighbor. In fact, on the one hand, we have those who are in favor of limiting the freedoms of those who have not yet been vaccinated, praising segregation and wishing them the worst of luck; on the other hand, however, we have those who are against it, who by appealing to literary dystopias or the European principle of non-discrimination, accuses the former of being essentially aspiring dictators. In such a toxic debate, however, reason and clarity are clouded by ferocious emotions: we need to calmly see the situation and the arguments of both sides so that we are able to form a logically reasoned opinion.

First, let’s start from the basics. A few months ago, when there was talk of a vaccination passport for the first time, this document was meant to have a profoundly different aspect from what, concretely, the green pass now has: initially, in fact, this document was to be granted only to those who had completed the vaccination course. The limitation of the freedoms of the unvaccinated, following that model of document, was absolutely inconceivable: first of all, because not everyone objectively has the possibility to get vaccinated (e.g. minors and immunocompromised people), and secondly because the vaccine was not yet mandatory. Basically, that would have been a discriminatory act, which in addition to being already wrong in principle as such, would have weighed down, even more, the position of young people, already tormented by the Italian generational hatred fomented in the last two years. The point is that the green pass as it is presented to us today is completely different from the initial idea of ​​a vaccination passport: in fact, while it is certainly true that it is issued at the end of the vaccination cycle, it can also be issued following a negative antigenic test or a certified recovery from covid-19. Therefore, appealing to the European ruling on non-discrimination for the green pass is quite useless, as the State does not discriminate against the unvaccinated yet, but rather all those who are not vaccinated, cured, or provided with a negative antigenic test. That doesn’t mean it’s fair, of course, but we’ll come back to that later. Moreover, precisely due to the ways in which a citizen can obtain the green pass, the arguments in favor of the limitations of freedom to the unvaccinated are equally stupid, as it is possible to obtain this certificate even without taking the jab.

Disassembled these two arguments, sadly very common, respectively against and pro limitations, let us analyze the context analytically. For two years now, the whole world has been battling the spread of a flu virus in a desperate attempt not to clog their national health systems. In fact, although many are still convinced that the covid problem is about deaths or infections, concretely speaking the problem is that if the limited places in intensive care are occupied by severe cases, these places are no longer available for all other pathologies that could need it. Fortunately, this virus does not affect all the population equally, but, on the contrary, tends to range from near lethality for the very old to the innocence of a cold for the youngest. Precisely for this reason, once the categories most at risk of serious complications have been vaccinated or otherwise protected, hospitals should feel the pressure relieved and, therefore, the emergency could be declared over. This also means that simply based on the risk of serious complications in individuals, vaccines should be highly recommended for those over 60, recommended for individuals between 40 and 60 years of age, not recommended for individuals between 20 and 40 years of age, and highly not recommended for individuals under 20. Indeed, although the disease involves risks, including long-term ones of an unknown nature, vaccination also entails risks, which in the long-term are also of an unknown nature. It is understandable to create a lot of “gentle nudges” to encourage vaccination in the population. On the other hand, the more people are protected, the less the national health system risks collapsing again. Anyways, those measures should remain nothing but gentle nudges.

So we come to the crux of the matter. Vaccination for covid is not mandatory and, although many wish to change this condition, it cannot even become so: in that case, in fact, the State would be obliged to pay compensation to all those who experience side effects following the vaccine and such possibility is completely excluded, considering that the vaccines have been authorized under emergency condition and that the long-term effects are not yet known precisely for this reason. And yes, the vaccines are actually approved in an emergency condition, as also reported on the EMA website (and the FDA, for the American colleagues, to which the exact same speech applies of course). Therefore, in the absence of a mandate, the individual must have the freedom to make a personal balance between costs and benefits and decide accordingly: a twenty-year-old in excellent health could decide not to be vaccinated as statistically the infection does not it would cause no discomfort, and he must be able to be free to make this reasoned decision without repercussions. But be careful, by this I don’t mean that freedom of choice means anarchy, on the contrary: living in a society means sharing the costs to achieve a common goal, and if the common goal is to achieve immunity, you can decide to pay your cost by overlapping the risk of vaccination, or by suffering the discomfort of the antigenic test.

The reason why I am strongly opposed to the mandatory nature of the green pass is not to be found in the health reasons behind it, but rather in the implications that it entails. First, the green pass contains a multitude of personal data in clear text, such as the vaccination stage and personal data: it is against any privacy policy to accept that an individual without specific authority, such as a bartender, a restaurateur, or a bouncer, can not only request such data but even view them and act accordingly. Secondly, instilling in the population the idea that constant sacrifice is necessary to reach zero risk is a very dangerous path: zero risk does not exist, in any aspect of our lives, and historically the worst authoritarian maneuvers have been authorized precisely in name of safeguarding national security. Among other things, starting to make people think that it is normal to be forced to show certificates, documents, and declarations to carry out normal activities such as going to a restaurant, walking, entering the university, or going to the gym, is pure madness and leaves room for many more authoritarian maneuvers. Also, it brings back to mind dark times in European history (“paper, please”). Furthermore, I believe that the green pass is strongly prone to inequality, because leaving aside for a moment the simplicity with which it can be falsified, it assumes that a vaccinated or cured person cannot further spread the virus, when available data and common sense claim the opposite. Let me explain: the green pass issued following the second dose of vaccine or certification of healing has a duration of six months, while the green pass issued following the negative result of a tampon lasts only 48 hours. However, the presence of antibodies inside our organisms, regardless of whether it is due to vaccination or correct healing, does not imply that it is impossible for us to get the virus back into our body but, rather, that if it did not enter it would harm us. This means, trivially, that a vaccinated person can be an asymptomatic positive or, as it was said up to a year and a half ago, a healthy carrier. But he does not necessarily know, as having the green pass lasting six months he could easily never test all this time, and he would still be able to freely access any club and activity. It doesn’t make much sense, and it’s unfair.

Nonetheless, however, what worries me most about this situation is not so much the drift of omnipresence that Italian politics is taking, but rather the tension one feels in talking to our fellow citizens. Thanks to the traditional media, which criminally seek the click-through sensationalist propaganda, I increasingly hear inhuman and indecent positions affirmed, for which I sincerely feel disgusted, such as “the unvaccinated are a damage to society, and for this reason, they must be eliminated” or “The unvaccinated should be completely excluded from life, without being able to go to school or the supermarket”. Let’s talk about it, this is a serious, dangerous, and thrilling hatred, a symptom of a very deep social fracture. This hatred will not be remedied through obligations and restrictions, but on the contrary, by doing so it will only aggravate, and the consequences could be very violent. To explain, the same climate of hatred was felt in Nazi Germany towards the “impure” or in the United States at the time of racial segregation: let’s try to learn from history and avoid retracing it as it is. The unvaccinated are not the evil of society, or, at least, no more so than are smokers, alcoholics, drug addicts, drug dealers, and tax evaders. Seriously, take a break and take a very deep soul-searching.

This article was originally written in Italian, you can find that version here.