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Jomo Thomas

Jomo Sanga Thomas is a lawyer, journalist, social commentator and a former Speaker of the House of Assembly in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. (iWN file photo)

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By *Jomo Sanga Thomas

(“Plain Talk” Oct. 22, 2021)

 Last September, a three-member appellate panel from the Australian Labour Board dismissed the appeal of Jennifer Kimber, a worker at a nursing home. Kimber claimed unfair and wrongful dismissal. She claimed that in 2018 she suffered an adverse reaction to a flu shot and sought exemption from any further injections.

Even though Kimber offered medical proof of her condition, the Appeal Board was not impressed. In dismissing the appeal, the majority said, “We do not intend, in the circumstances of the current pandemic, to give any encouragement to a spurious objection to a lawful workplace vaccination requirement.’ See the entire decision here.

In a withering attack on the majority’s opinion, Lyndall Dean, the dissenting judge, made perfect sense.  In a final comment, he said, “Mandating vaccines for everyone is a lazy and fundamentally flawed approach to risk management and should be soundly rejected by courts when challenged.”

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Dean argued:

“Research in the context of COVID-19 has shown that many who are vaccine-hesitant are well educated, work in the health care industry and have questions about how effective the vaccines are in stopping transmission, whether they are safe to take during pregnancy, or if they affect fertility.  A far safer and more democratic approach to addressing vaccine hesitancy, thereby increasing voluntary vaccination uptake, lies in better education, addressing specific and often legitimate concerns that people may hold, and promoting genuine informed consent. It does not lie in censoring differing opinions or removing rights and civil liberties that are fundamental in a democratic nation. It certainly does not lie in the use of highly coercive, undemocratic and unethical mandates.

The statements by politicians that those who are not vaccinated are a threat to public health and should be locked out of society and denied the ability to work, are not measures to protect public health. They are not about public health and are not justified because they do not address the actual risk of COVID. These measures can only be about punishing those who choose not to be vaccinated. If the purpose of the public health authorities is genuinely to reduce the spread of COVID-19, there is no basis for locking out people who do not have COVID, which is easily established by a rapid antigen test. Conversely, a vaccinated person who contracts COVIDshould be required to isolate until they have recovered.

“Blanket rules, such as mandating vaccinations for everyone across a whole profession or industry regardless of the actual risk, fail the tests of proportionality, necessity and reasonableness. It is more than the absolute minimum necessary to combat the crisis and cannot be justified on health grounds. It is a lazy and fundamentally flawed approach to risk management and should be soundly rejected by courts when challenged.

“All Australians should vigorously oppose the introduction of a system of medical apartheid and segregation in Australia. It is an abhorrent concept and is morally and ethically wrong, and the anthesis of our democratic way of life and everything we value.

“Australians should also vigorously oppose the ongoing censorship of any views that question the current policies regarding COVID. Science is no longer science if a person is not allowed to question it.

“Finally, all Australians, including those who hold or are suspected of holding ‘anti-vaccination sentiments,’ are entitled to the protection of our laws, including the protections afforded by the Fair Work Act. In this regard, one can only hope that the Majority Decision is recognised as an anomaly and not followed by others.”

In a thoughtful and wide-ranging review of the literature, Dean cited the Great Barrington Declaration, a statement by infectious disease epidemiologists and public health scientists, which recommended an approach called Focused Protection. The GB Declaration includes the following:

Current lockdown policies are producing devastating effects on short and long-term public health. The working class and younger members of society carry the heaviest burden. Keeping students out of school is a grave injustice.

We know that vulnerability to death from COVID-19 is more than a thousand-fold higher in the old and infirm than the young. Indeed, for children, COVID-19 is less dangerous than many other harms, including influenza.

The most compassionate approach that balances the risks and benefits is to allow those at minimal risk of death to live their lives normally to build up immunity to the virus through natural infection, while better protecting those at the highest risk. We call this Focused Protection. Adopting measures to protect the vulnerable should be the central aim of public health responses to COVID-19.

Those who are not vulnerable should immediately be allowed to resume life as normal. Simple hygiene measures, such as hand washing and staying home when sick, should be practised. Schools and universities should be open for in-person teaching. Extracurricular activities, such as sports, should be resumed. Young low-risk adults should work normally rather than from home. Restaurants and other businesses should open. Arts, music, sport and other cultural activities should resume. People who are more at risk may participate if they wish, while society as a whole enjoys the protection conferred upon the vulnerable by those who have built up herd immunity.”

Since the GB Declaration was first made, over 860,000 scientists and health professionals have signed the GB Declaration.

Judge Dean also cited documents produced by the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, which said:

“Governments have to make difficult decisions in response to COVID-19.  International law allows emergency measures in response to significant threats — but measures that restrict human rights should be proportionate to the evaluated risk, necessary and applied in a non-discriminatory way.  This means having a specific focus and duration and taking the least intrusive approach possible to protect public health.

“Concerning COVID-19, emergency powers must only be used for legitimate public health goals, not used as a basis to quash dissent, silence the work of human rights defenders or journalists, deny other human rights or take any other steps that are not strictly necessary to address the health situation.”

Judge Dean makes the profoundly simple point, “Science is no longer science if a person is not allowed to question it… Mandating vaccines for everyone is a lazy and fundamentally flawed approach to risk management and should be soundly rejected by courts when challenged.”

We could not agree more.

*Jomo Sanga Thomas is a lawyer, journalist, social commentator and a former Speaker of the House of Assembly in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

The views expressed herein are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent the opinions or editorial position of iWitness News. Opinion pieces can be submitted to [email protected].

5 replies on “When dissent makes perfect sense”

  1. Decent Guitarplayer says:

    Jomo, boy you always coming with some far fetched information for places that you can’t even compare SVG to in a realistic way. Maybe if you wrote a book about something in SVG from time to time it would be better for you, I mean instead of only reading and writing what you half understand. What about the suit the big man brought against you, and others too? Write about that or about how Flow bad service is affecting learning or get back to your usual anti establishment tirades.

  2. Vincy In New York says:

    With every once of my being, I was fighting to avoid commenting on any media. However, when I read Jomo’s piece, I have to say something.

    First, the Desiderata says “Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even to the dull and the ignorant; they too have their story.”

    Jomo is reckless in his remarks about Covid-19 and its effects on society. We are living in a pandemic and coping with the deaths of our love ones, and Jomo is touting herd immunity as a way to combat Covid-19. Is Jomo aware of the fact that Bolsonaro tried the same thing in Brazil?

    Herd immunity can be achieved in 2 ways – vaccination and natural selection. It takes a s…k person to dispel the scientific values of vaccines and embrace natural selection. There, I said it!!!

    No vaccine is 100% safe. The death rate from covid-19 vaccines is around 0.002% (Center for Disease Control) Are you going to tell someone who contracts covid-19 – with an underlying condition – to take ivermectin?

    To Kenton and Bing Joseph, it is great to have opposing views on topics that are of pivotal importance, say Covid-19, but you have to know when to draw the line. We are in a pandemic and covid-19 is a very communicable disease that takes about 52 lives in SVG and you guys are still entertaining Jomo’s n….se and giving him a platform to do so.

    This man has no evidence to the contrary but is using some dissenting views in a court room to bolster his arguments against mandates. Well, if no one wants to take the vaccines and instead decides to follow the order of natural selection, how much of a working population will be left in SVG?

  3. Duke DeArment says:

    I totally agree with Judge Dean and Jomo on this one. It is so encouraging to hear there are still intelligent, and thinking people in high positions THAT HAVE DONE THE RESEARCH and have not given in to fear and misinformation and to “go along with the crowd”. The level that the controlling bankers such as Klaus Schwab and their other eugenics buddies have used their money to indoctrinate people into going along with the experimental injection that, by definition, is not really a vaccine at all.
    Those that want to get the injection are welcome to it,… but do not take away the liberty of the rest of us for choosing not to. So many of my relatives have died from blood clot problems. I would be really stupid to get injected, but in the future when the government “compels” me to do so “OR ELSE”, they do not care of my family medical history. I would rather take my chances of getting the virus and recovering.
    It is already bad enough to wear these masks that are proven to be “useless” according to Tony F. and my military training. Anyone should be free to wear the adult pacifier if they want, /i do not, Instead I wish our Health Department would RESEARCH science AND REAL STATISTICS instead of fear indoctrination. Very unfortunate indeed to be led by fear sheeple as those in charge now.

    By the way: How many have died from the vaccines in SVG? I knew two. How many more are there?

    Jomo, thanks for your courage on writing this.

  4. Runako Francis says:

    Vincy in New York is right. How can Joma use the dissenting judgment as if it is the finding of the court in Australia. This is so wrong! This guy is selfishly trying to be relevant in a deadly pandemic.

  5. IWNSVG, There are somethings that you must not do on principle. Many times you refuse to publish many people’s comments and concerns about things going on in our country but you steadfastly publish Jomo’s rantings everytime. I don’t mean to tell you how to run you business but I think you should have an editorial board and carefully weight the information you publish before you do it, for instance the crap that plain talk is dishing about covid19.

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