Why Australia Should Let the Serbian Tennis Player In ASAP.
UPDATE: Djokovic has been freed from his detention by a judge, who reversed the decision by Home Affairs. Now, it’s in the Australian federal government’s court (no pun intended), and any cancellation of his visa would likely inflame further scandal. It appears, for now, that Djokovic is cleared to play!
Today, the world’s #1 tennis player is locked in a crummy, flea-infested hotel in Melbourne, Australia, guarded by two armed police officers. Sadly, the average Australian citizen in the Northern Territory isn’t faring much better, as the country’s “Zero COVID” strategy is collapsing with the recent wave of cases.
Yet the world is, in a way, right focused on Djokovic, who has been separated from his teammates and family members on the day that is celebrated as Christmas day (January 7) in the Serbian Orthodox church. Miserable Australians, loving company, are now celebrating this unjust and arbitrary about-face, after it appeared that Djokovic had been given the go-ahead just days earlier.
Djokovic already had COVID back in 2020. He refuses to be vaccinated (or at least refuses to say), and his exemption was approved by two independent panels of Australian medical experts. Yet in the end, the backlash by the people of Australia seems to have swayed their federal government, which gave into the mob and denied him a visa at the very last checkpoint — dashing his hopes of defending his title (three years running) in the Australian Open.
I do not fault the Australian people for feeling frustrated, and even resentful about this episode. They have endured some of the worst treatment from their governments over the past two years. Their lockdowns make American lockdowns look like nothing, to say nothing of the literal camps for citizens who test positive or in any way resist the encroaching prison-state.
Admittedly, the decision to allow the poster child for the hardcourt tennis match into the country smacks of favoritism when so many have been denied the ability to travel from one territory to another to visit dying relatives and the like. When it comes to protesting these injustices, Australians should be angry! However, it is the Australian people above everyone else who should, in fact, be demanding Novak’s swift release and welcoming him in, as a symbolic finale to the dark days and a return to a more sane world. Vive le Tennis! Vive Australia! Vive Djokovic!
Officials have painted themselves into a corner by promoting universal vaccination and strict quarantines as the only way to deal with a virus with a 99.97% survival rate. Now, as the world wakes up to the fact that we are now dealing with something endemic, and not all that unlike the flu, there is an opportunity to reassess the situation in light of new information, and admit that we’ve been hypnotized into a state of irrational fear and submission.
Several key pieces of data pertaining to the vaccine debate have recently crystallized, which should suffice to end any argument about the prudence of allowing a traveler of Djokovic’s status into the country.
The Vaccinated are Spreading Infection—Fast
First, although we’ve long known that vaccination does not prevent the spread of COVID, the rapid rise of the Omicron variant in highly vaccinated has dispelled any remaining question mark. Australia is over 90% vaccinated, with some 40% boosted, and yet cases are skyrocketing — not from any loosening of restrictions, just from the inevitable behavior of a highly contagious airborne disease in a country without much prior exposure or immunity. Alex Berenson has reported on the latest studies showing negative efficacy of the vaccines against Omicron, based on the available data from Denmark and Iceland (two countries with 90+% vaccination rates), where the infection rate is higher in the vaccinated population on a per-capita basis than the unvaccinated.
The dark blue line shows “fully vaccinated,” compared with the light blue “not fully vaccinated” group.
Dr. Robert Malone, always cautious to give the mainstream view the benefit of the doubt, points out that part of this difference could be from the vaccinated engaging in riskier behaviors, like going clubbing, eating indoors, etc. However, the rate of infection in the vaccinated is increasingly so dramatically that it’s impossible to attribute it entirely to such confounding factors. Besides, most healthy unvaccinated people that I know (myself included) have been going about life as normally as possible, so that particular confounding variable seems an unlikely culprit. It is not unlikely, however, that the emboldened vaccinated population have become super-spreaders of sorts, transmitting the virus unwittingly since they have fewer symptoms when infected. [Aside: Having been recently infected myself, as an unvaccinated person, I knew when I had it, and took steps to isolate. When the vaccines “work” well, and reduce or eliminate symptoms, they also prevent people from knowing that they are infected.]
You would think that all of the officials who touted the ability of the vaccines to stop the virus in its tracks would have more humility right now. Instead, they are doubling down on the “pandemic of the unvaccinated” narrative — creating scapegoats out of the unvaccinated, even as the data clearly contradicts them.
Natural Immunity > Vaccinated Immunity
Part of the story in the graph above is also the waning efficacy or artificially-induced immunity — hence the need for endless boosters just to get back to baseline immunity.
The Danish nationwide databases of vaccine effectiveness show stark vaccine failure beginning 91–151 days after the second dose—NEGATIVE efficacy against Omicron, and rapidly declining efficacy against the Delta variant.
By comparison, natural immunity appears much more durable (1, 2, 3, 4). The bundle of documentation Djokovic brought with him to customs in Melbourne presumably included some measure of his enduring antibody levels to support his claims of a valid exemption, which would explain why it was previously accepted by the regional authorities of Victoria, even when subject to a high level of scrutiny from multiple independent panels (who allegedly knew nothing about who they were assessing).
The durability of natural immunity relative to vaccinated immunity is just one factor that puts prior infection on par with vaccination as a criteria for countries that wish to maintain strict entry policies. Those with natural immunity also tend to have greater mucosal immunity, which means the body begins to fight the virus at the first point of entry — reducing the likelihood of “breakthrough infection” and transmission following infection. Although the vaccines may stop the development of the disease, they do not stop it from reproducing and subsequently infecting other people.
Finally, natural immunity also confers superior protection against variants, and reduces the viral load on breakthrough infection**.
Vaccine Injury is Real
[EDIT, 1/10/21: Ironically, a fully-vaccinated Georgian tennis star playing in the ATP tournament that leads up to the Australian Open had to withdraw from a match due to shortness of breath and a constricted feeling in his chest – classic symptoms of myocarditis (the most common severe adverse reaction for healthy men). This is a genuine tragedy effecting thousands of people, and is simply not being reported by mainstream media.]
Those who scoff at the idea of seeking an exemption as a kind of privilege are missing the most important point of all. Bodily autonomy used to be something sacred, along with the related right of medical privacy. By refusing to disclose his vaccination status, Djokovic pays homage to this dying norm (even though we all know that it means he hasn’t taken it). Whether or not he has any special reasons not to take the vaccine should not be anyone’s business.
In the past, vaccine exemptions have generally afforded the benefit of the doubt. That was when the vaccines in question were actually sterilizing — i.e., where there was a justifiable public benefit to having a large majority of the population being inoculated. With these brand-new experimental vaccines, with no demonstrable social benefit, we should be far more lenient in granting exemptions.
I repeat: Djokovic is no more likely to spread COVID (and in all likelihood, he is less likely due to his prior infection), and the only possible danger of not being vaccinated is therefore to himself.
Any reason should be accepted as valid, from a simple matter of conscience to the empirically-valid decision by a young, person that it’s not worth it for someone in their risk bracket.
In Djokovic’s case, those who point out how obviously fit and healthy he is might not know that he suffered from debilitating food allergies early in his career, before eliminating grains, dairy, and even meat from his diet to great results. Many of us who have suffered chronic illness in the past are very sensitive to how our bodies respond to outside influences. The adjuvants in vaccines alone have the potential to cause all kinds of insults, to say nothing of the spike protein the mRNA instructs our cells to produce.
Furthermore, we know that those who have prior infections are at higher risk of an adverse event from the vaccine. As Todd Zywicki has pointed out, “All of the risks (plus more!) with none of the benefits. What a deal!”
The more insistent vaccine proponents are that there are no health risks associated with the shots, the harder it becomes to take anything they say at face value. We now know that rates of myocarditis and pericarditis are higher in young, healthy men for the vaccine than they are for the virus itself. Even more frighteningly, these risks seem to double with each subsequent dose, such that by the third booster, a male under 40 will have increased his baseline risk of myocarditis eightfold.
Perhaps Djokovic is playing the long game – knowing that his peers are likely to eventually suffer from the side effects on a long enough time horizon of boosters, leaving him even more unrivaled than he is today. Of course, this is not the way Djokovic thinks. He is a competitive spirit, and merely wants to be considered on his own merits, which will almost certainly rank him as the Greatest of All Time in the sport of tennis.
If he has to bow out of this one, he’ll come back with a fury next time around. Australia, however, may never recover — unless it comes to its senses and soon. As long as the unvaccinated remain scapegoats for the general malaise of the lockdown countries, they will never see their predicament clearly, and they will never escape from their self-imposed prisons.