Like lambs to the slaughter, can the non-conformists be led to compulsory vaccination which fear, born of ignorance, has made the world believe that the inoculation drive is the only A1 road towards returning to a new normalcy to the total exclusion of other pathways. Should the disbelievers of the creed laid down as gospel [...]


The right to say ‘no’ to vaccination by force

Govt to make vaccine passes mandatory after Sept 15

Like lambs to the slaughter, can the non-conformists be led to compulsory vaccination which fear, born of ignorance, has made the world believe that the inoculation drive is the only A1 road towards returning to a new normalcy to the total exclusion of other pathways.

Should the disbelievers of the creed laid down as gospel truth by western science, should the heathens, whom science brands as infidels, who refuse to bend the knee before its altar or surrender their personal convictions in the face of the dangled holy book of half-baked conclusions held before them by other pseudo-scientific do-gooders in blind adherence, be compelled to follow the line and forego their faith and, in a crazed bout of scientific fanaticism, be subject to forced vaccination?

If the vaccination comes with the iron clad guarantee of absolute protection, then it may have given pause to the dissenters – but it does not. If the vaccine is attendant by an iron clad assurance that it will not cause adverse side effects in the long term, then it may have again made the dissenters reconsider their opposition to it – but again it does not, simply because the vaccine developers themselves admit that they have no clue and can only second guess, if at all, on its long term consequences.

THE VACCINE DEBATE: Can compulsory vaccination be justified on the ground it is for the majority’s good, when the vaccine’s long-term repercussions are still unknown?

If the World Health Organization, the approving Mecca of all pharmaceutical drugs, had ventured to grant its unqualified blessing for its universal use, then the inherent fears of the strict objector may have been partly assuaged – but the world health body has not, approving the vaccines, only for ‘emergency use’ due to the exigencies of the crisis.

Thus what the objectors are asked is to undergo mandatory vaccination – be it the Pfizer, the Moderna, the AstraZeneca, the Sputnik, the Sinopharm or the Sinovac – without any empirical evidence existing that it offers complete protection, without assurance it has no side effects, and without the all clear for general use given by the WHO: a motley of shabby vaccines developed in haste which even its creators cannot say how long its immunity will last,  nor even predict its effectiveness against COVID’s present variants or future mutated versions.

What’s on the prescription list is a vaccine that falls far short of even science’s exacting standards but which is hyped as the sole life saver, coupled with WHO’s sudden descent from the higher ground of critical evaluation, abandoning its ideals for expediency’s sake merely to placate the crying call of besieged nations battling a pandemic; and these two dubious reasons have surrounded the credibility of the vaccine in a fog of questions, to which credible answers come there none.

Though there are no religious objections worldwide except for a handful of fringe Christian sects, those who object to forced vaccinations base their objection on the ground that it is against their fundamental right to life and bodily integrity. The right not to have any alien substance injected into their bodies against their will, especially so when the authourities themselves do not know the exact nature of what they are injecting. If it is to build their immunity levels to ward off COVID’s attack, they point out that there are other ways, less hazardous, to do so.

To meet the common justification for mandatory vaccinations, that vaccines are so important and its risk so outweighed by its benefit, and that it is for society’s good, the dissenters ask how a vaccine bogged in grey areas of medical uncertainty can be flogged with so much sureness as the sure-fire cure to beat the pandemic; and question how forcibly administering such a vaccine can be conclusively held to be ‘for society’s good’ when its long-term repercussions are still unknown.

However, in their ‘live and let live’ philosophy, they say: ‘To those willing to take the plunge with all its unsaid risks by all means, go ahead. To those willing to sign the blank check, let them, by all means, sign. Let them exercise their will freely and do as they wish. That is their right. All we ask is to respect our right to refuse. Don’t violate our bodies with a hastily produced vaccine, which has not even received WHO’s unqualified approval, without our consent.’

Already many nations intend to practise a limited form of indirect mandatory vaccinations. In France, for instance, Parliament approved a bill early this month which will make vaccinations mandatory for health workers as well as to require a bolstered health pass to attend many social venues. In Britain, it will be mandatory for care home workers in England to have vaccinations from October. English nightclubs and other venues with large crowds will require people to present proof of full vaccination to gain entrance from the end of September.

In Lanka, too, the Government said on Friday that vaccination cards will be made mandatory for all above 30 to enter public places after September 15, though this indirect route to make vaccinations compulsory may face legal challenges. This Monday, activists filed a complaint with the Sri Lanka Human Rights Commission against compulsory vaccination.

For those of us who have taken both doses of the vaccine in the belief that it will be the talisman of our protection, it is too late and futile to ponder on what horrors await us in the future. But for some who haven’t still crossed the Rubicon, genuine fears exist to haunt their sleep, among them the worrying nightmare, whether it will leave them sterile or their veins blood clotted beyond repair.

Practitioners of the Ayurvedic community stick fast to their belief that their age old medical traditions hold the answer to the ultimate cure. They pooh-pooh the Dhammika paniya as being an insult to ayurveda, produced for commercial consumption for a gullible public, and granted Government approval overnight for ‘emergency use’ to meet the ‘exigencies of the situation’, which was cancelled this week.

Nay, their purpose is to probe their secret world of knowledge and hail the elixir they find therein. Ayurvedic Dr. B. A. Ratnapala, a former adviser to the Indigenous Ministry, in an interview with TV journalist Chamuditha Samarawickrama, held that the local remedy was to build up a person’s immunity to a level strong enough to repel a COVID attack. He said: “What the vaccine attempts to do is also the same but their methods can result in long-term adverse consequences. We use a herbal concoction, without any side effects at all. I have already done this with my patients and can show successful results. I can raise the lymphocytes levels to the required level within a week.”

“Thus,” he declared, “why should my patients who have been successfully cured or I who have taken the same, take a vaccine of unknown effects?  I will strongly resist any attempt to vaccinate me by force.”

So is one man’s meat, another’s poison? And, in the absence of solid evidence as to its consequences, can the state force him to take the vaccine on the spurious basis it’s for the good of the many when the future may prove the contrary?  Food for thought? Or an indigenous recipe for disaster? You decide.

COVID PREVENTION MINISTER: You are your own protector

Words of warning

With the Government remaining intransigent and not yielding an inch of ground to bombardments from medical experts demanding an immediate lockdown to stem the alarming rise in COVID casualties, the nation’s COVID Minister Sudharshani Fernandopulle could do naught but wring her hands and raise a personal warning to the people on Wednesday.

She said:

“My opinion does not matter. Decision makers will make their decisions. But the country is at risk. Do not wait for the Government and the Ministry of Health to act. Protect your family. Do not wait for a lockdown to be imposed or for someone else to make the rules.  Learn to protect yourself. Follow the health guidelines as advised. Stop all unnecessary travel. Stop unnecessary parties. Stop visiting relatives unnecessarily. This is to protect oneself. This is a matter of life and death.”

And to prove she is taking her own medicine, she cancelled her son’s planned wedding on Friday at a five star hotel in Colombo. Good.

The message she delivered, in what may be her swansong in the light of inklings of a possible cabinet shakeup, is clear: If the government’s only strategy is to reshuffle the cabinet pack in the manner of changing the pillow case to make the headache go away, then with the government abdicating its responsibility, it is each one for oneself and – as cabinet spokesman Keheliya Rambukwella told the media at this week’s cabinet briefing – the Gods for us all.


HIGH FLIER: Udayanga Weeratunga does it again

The Paradise bubble is still to burst for someUdayanga flies in new batch of 44 Russian tourists

Apparently for some, bubbled paradise has still not burst and the thirst for dollars continues unquenched, even when the island nation totters on the threshold of an unprecedented COVID storm swirling overhead to do its worst.

Though Lanka is experiencing the worst phase of the pandemic and the daily cases and deaths reported rise to new heights, it has not deterred Udayanga Weeratunga, Lanka’s self-appointed travel agent to former Soviet bloc countries, from executing his ambitious plans undaunted.

On Monday, he brought down the second batch of 44 Russian tourists seeking sun and fun amid the COVID gloom. While the government is being urged to impose a lockdown to halt the spiraling rise in COVID deaths, while it has announced that the inter-provincial travel ban will be strictly enforced, this privileged group will be allowed the freedom of the country’s broad acres to potentially add fuel to the spreading wildfire.

And this, of course, is not the first time Weeratunga, who holds no official position in the government but flies around like a loose missile in defiance of health regulations on the strength of his kinly connections, has brought in potentially infected tourists, at a pandemic time many countries had put up their shutters to all foreigners. On 26th December 2020, he imported the first batch of tourist from COVID infested Ukraine and later expanded his dollar spinning operation to bring hundreds more in batches, even flouting the Tourist Board’s liberalised  regulations and the generous quarantine conditions extended to the mission, so they could have a pleasurable holiday.

Their itinerary consisted of soaking the sun for seven days on the island’s southern beaches and, thereafter, visiting the Yala National Park, the Elephant’s Transfer Home Athurusevana, Uda Walawe, Kaudulla National Park, Minneriya, the Elephants’ Orphanage at Pinnawela, Sigiriya, Dambulla and the Dalada Maligawa. They could also choose three other sites from within the Cultural Triangle.

Not bad for a two week package holiday in trying times, is it? No doubt, the tourists would have carried home fond memories of an unforgettable stay on paradise isle but what they may have left behind for the natives to experience may never be truly known.

In the ensuing blame game for the present aggravated COVID crisis, the ‘tourist experiment’ has been cited by the opposition and the public as being one of the reasons why the Government has pathetically failed to control the pandemic and prevent it taking a turn for the worst. The latest arrivals will serve only to invite another barrage of justified criticism.

The Tourism Minister, Prasanna Ranatunge, who visited Russia three weeks ago, has so far remained silent on the matter. He should explain how Tourist Board regulations and Health Ministry orders were circumvented to make this mission possible.

Else, it would seem as though the Government, in the midst of the storm, is actively praying for rain. And a host of COVID demons working overtime to see them answered.


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