On May 8, Russian state broadcaster RT ran an op-ed by Jani Allan, a writer and talk show host, strongly objecting to the mass vaccination drive against COVID-19, which has killed an estimated 3.3 million people globally.
Allan claims she is not engaging in “an anti-vaccine rant,” but “a sober discussion” on civil liberties.
She compares ongoing vaccination efforts to fascism, falsely claims enforced mask wearing is doing “irreparable harm” to children, accuses a pediatrician of wanting the "United Nations to establish shock troops to hunt down and eliminate” anti-vaxxers, and questions whether those who cannot provide proof of vaccination will “suffer a similar fate” to Jews in Nazi Germany, being forced to endure a “Covid apartheid.”
Allan claims Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer “has made her entire state hostage to being vaccinated.”
“Get the jab or suffer gunpoint-enforced lockdowns: they won’t end until 70% of the state’s adults surrender to being injected. This is fascistic coercion that violates restrictions against medical experiments, violates fundamental human rights and the requirement for informed consent,” Allan writes.
“Surely such tactics should never be deployed or tolerated in a free society,” Allan continues,” after which she refers to Nazi Germany’s Nuremberg Race Laws.
Allan’s characterizations of COVID-19 vaccination efforts in Michigan and other claims of gross rights violations related to inoculation efforts are blatantly false.
The claim made by Allan and other opponents of COVID-19 vaccination that administering it amounts to “experimentation” often reflects a faulty understanding of how Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) works in the United States. EUA permits the distribution of vaccines prior to U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval.
Medical experts note that EUA does not affect how vaccines are developed or clinical studies into potential side effects. Rather, it streamlines bureaucracy and production.
Those COVID-19 vaccines that have received EUA in the U.S. have all completed phase 3 trials, in which the vaccines were administered to tens of thousands of people “in randomized, controlled studies involving broad demographic groups,” the FDA said.
As for the claim that vaccines require informed consent (meaning a recipient must agree to get the vaccine and understands the potential benefits and consequences), the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says: “There is no federal requirement for informed consent relating to immunization.”
With vaccines administered on a state-by-state basis at a number of venues, determining how informed each individual is prior to vaccination is near impossible.
Individuals do, however, complete a vaccine screening and consent form prior to inoculation.
Meantime, Michigan’s Gov. Whitmer, a Democrat, has long been a lightning rod for controversy due to her stringent measures to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic and use of emergency powers to enact them.
Other opponents of Whitmer took it much further. In October 2020, 14 members of a right-wing paramilitary group were arrested for allegedly conspiring to kidnap her and overthrow the Michigan government in response to COVID-19-related restrictions.
Contrary to Allan, the legal and political processes surrounding Whitmer’s COVID-19 policies have been typically democratic, not “fascistic.”
Republican-led lawsuits even culminated in a Michigan Supreme Court ruling that Whitmer could not use the Emergency Powers of Governor Act to tackle the pandemic, including stay-at-home orders.
In April, Whitmer said no new COVID-19 lockdown measures would be implemented despite a spike in cases, stating she did not have “the exact same tools” because of those legal challenges and rulings.
Measures that include mask requirements and limits on gatherings issued by Michigan’s Department of Health and Human Services were not affected by the court ruling, the Detroit Free Press reported.
Some of those restrictions were later lifted, with Whitmer announcing in January that bars and restaurants could reopen at limited capacity.
As of this writing, food service establishments, indoor and outdoor gatherings, cosmetology and barber services, entertainment venues (movie theaters, casinos, etc.), gym and exercise studios, pools, funeral parlors and offices are open or permitted with restrictions. Schools, places of worship, parks, childcare facilities and doctors’ offices are open without restrictions.
Some business owners continue to challenge the legality of those measures.
Still, Allan’s claim that Michigan residents are being compelled to get vaccinated under the threat of “gunpoint-enforced lockdowns” is a gross mischaracterization of Whitmer’s staggered reopening strategy.
In April, Whitmer released a plan linking rising levels of vaccination to a loosening of COVID-19-related restrictions, with the goal of vaccinating 70% of the population aged 16 or older.
On May 10, Whitmer announced the first vaccine milestone had been reached, with 55% of Michiganders having received at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose.
The vaccine milestones are based on voluntary participation. Whitmer has never signaled any intention to make vaccination compulsory in Michigan.
Likewise, her administration says it has been “very clear” it is not “currently exploring a vaccine passport concept” even though Republican lawmakers proposed legislation to prohibit passports.