- While the SARS-CoV‑2 vaccines were initially effective, their efficacy is declining significantly with time and because of new variants;
- Vaccinated persons can therefore still be contaminated to a significant extent (see recent data from Israel, the USA and the UK) and can also be contagious to others;
- immunity acquired through natural infection is more durable and resistant to variants than vaccine-induced immunity;
- current vaccines cause rare but serious adverse events, the extent of which is underestimated and underreported. The reporting of adverse events by general practitioners, hospital doctors and vaccinees is currently reported to be largely insufficient;
- children play a small role in the spread of the virus, and they very rarely become (severely) ill with the virus. In the United Kingdom, the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) states that based on the current state of knowledge, the balance of risk between Covid-19 disease and Covid-19 vaccines does not justify mass vaccination of children who are not at risk;
- Highly sensitive PCR tests can result in many false positives (i.e., people who are not actually contagious);
- Severe forms of Covid-19 are related to underlying conditions, mainly obesity, diabetes, hypertension, anxiety and depression.
We can now conclude that:
- even with 100% of the population vaccinated, herd immunity cannot be achieved with current vaccines. The current mass vaccination strategy is therefore not an effective or efficient option to pursue and getting vaccinated cannot be considered an act of solidarity. Vaccine development against the variants may be delayed;
- the Covid Safe Ticket is not effective from a medical/epidemiological and psychological perspective, as it leads to a false sense of security and may contribute to new SARS-CoV‑2 and Covid-19 infections;
- distinguishing between vaccinated and unvaccinated persons is meaningless from an epidemiological point of view. Such a distinction is also discriminatory and morally deplorable;
- the decision to be vaccinated should remain a personal choice based on a balance of benefits and risks, taking into account acquired immunity.
In the search for a better approach, and in anticipation of expected future waves, we therefore call on our governments to recognize that Covid-19 is a complex and heterogeneous issue that cannot be solved by simple, universal measures, but rather by the development of targeted, proportional and equitable measures, depending on each context and target population.
In concrete terms, this means that we recommend the following to our policy makers at all levels
- Discontinue the use of the Covid Safe Ticket because, in addition to being ineffective, it is also discriminatory and leads to segregation of the population; the false sense of security is also dangerous on the part of those vaccinated who may be infected and contagious without knowing it. Governments should make a public call to end the segregation and polarization between the vaccinated and unvaccinated.
- Discontinue vaccination of children and adolescents, except for children at high risk of developing a severe form of Covid-19 and only at the request of their parents. It also means that schools must not take responsibility for or intervene in the immunization of children and adolescents, that it must be forbidden to ask about the immunization status of children and adolescents, and that it must be forbidden to discriminate between immunized and unimmunized children.
- Offer — in accordance with the precautionary principle — available vaccines only to those who are expected to have a positive benefit/risk ratio based on their own health status and personal situation. In practical terms, this means firstly offering the possibility (not the obligation) of a third dose to immunocompromised persons, the elderly (p. e.g. > 70 years of age) in residential and home settings and to persons with multi-morbidity or risk factors who have not yet been infected with SARS-CoV‑2.
- End the misuse of PCR testing as a mass detection tool in asymptomatic, non-at-risk individuals; instead, adopt a rational testing policy to identify contagious individuals and infections and detect new clusters quickly and effectively.
- Helping primary health care professionals promote health among vulnerable populations (including nutritional supplementation if necessary), counsel their patients for comorbidities and other specific needs, and implement guidelines for treating their patients early when infected, with treatment appropriate to the health situation and needs of each patient (possibly including anticoagulants, corticosteroids, anti-inflammatory drugs, and/or antibiotics if a secondary microbial infection is suspected)
- Never again use children as a target for restrictive measures (school closures, wearing masks): school closures have now been shown to be more harmful to children — especially the most vulnerable — than the potential health gains to the community, and there is no evidence that wearing masks in school is effective in preventing the spread of Covid-19.
- Promote outdoor activities and invest in ventilation/filtration of indoor public spaces.
- Invest sufficient resources in strengthening our health care system, both at the front line of care and at the hospital level, to ensure that it is resilient and ready to deal with future health threats. It also requires a long-term view of public health, starting in childhood and including education.
- Conduct mass health promotion campaigns to reduce the burden of non-communicable diseases and strengthen population immunity to current and future viral and bacterial epidemics.
- Continuously and independently evaluate the intervention measures implemented, make the results of these evaluations public, and promote a transparent and inclusive policy dialogue in order to adapt health policies to the specificities of the context, the expectations of the population, and the evolution of priorities.
With all of the above, we call on our governments to develop a strategy for communicating with the public that is not based on guilt, anxiety, law enforcement and blame, but on education, stimulating vigilance, responsibility and connection, and offering realistic perspectives.
Sign the petition: https://factor‑v.be/fr/open-letters/et-maintenant
The scientific sources are available in the literature and can be obtained on request
Anne Franchimont general practitioner UCLouvain
Benoit Bourgine, theologian, UCLouvain
Bernard Rentier, virologist, ULiège
Callan Correo, artiest, ondernemer
Christel De Jonghe, ondernemer
Christine Dupont, bioengineer, UCLouvain
Denis Flandre, nano-bio-electronics Engineering, UCLouvain
Dirk Theuns, ondernemer
Elisabeth Paul, health policies & systems, ULB
Erik Van den Haute, rechten, ULB
Frédéric Caruso, anaesthesiologist and intensive care physician, ex ULiège / ULB.
Greet Verbruggen, consultant, ondernemer
Hilde Van Liefferinge, docent, coach
Jean-François Raskin, sociology, ihecs Brussels
Jean-Louis Lamboray, Public Health, Mahidol University Thailand
Lieven Annemans, welzijns- en gezondheidseconoom, UGent & VUB
Luc De Wandel, journalist
Martin Buysse, physicist, UCLouvain
Martin Zizi, epidemiologist, biophysicist
Melanie Dechamps, intensive care medicine, Cliniques Universitaires St Luc, UCLouvain
Nicolas Vermeulen, psychology, UCLouvain
Olivier Lhoest, anesthesiologist-resuscitator
Paul Neefs, criminoloog
Pierre Schaus, computer science, UCLouvain
Quentin Louveaux, computer science and electrical engineering, ULiège
Raphael Jungers, applied mathematics, UCLouvain
Raphaël Lefevere, mathematics, University of Paris
Steven Arrazola de Oñate, ondernemer
Tom Van Heffen, bedrijfsleider
Vincent Laborderie, political scientist, UCLouvain
Wim Vermeulen, advocaat