«I always hope for the best. Experience, however, has taught me to expect the worst.»
Garak in Star Trek DS9
Looking at the current situation of Covid-19 in Germany — with the government keeping their powers until after the next general election (honi soit qui mal y pense) — I see two possible developments that (hopefully!) turn out wrong.
#1 The vaccination campaign will switch to attack ads
Currently there are … atrocious ads trying to convince people to get vaccinated. Personally, I won’t do it — and that is the hill I am willing to (quite literally) die on. But I understand that people want to get vaccinated. And using scarcity (even actual existing scarcity of the vaccines) was a persuasive move that likely tipped the scales for some. And while the current position of the government is a “no, we won’t force anyone to get vaccinated”, yeah, sorry, I don’t trust these assertions anymore, too many so-called fake news became reality a few months later. But physical force will likely not be used (unless things really go downhill). So what else is in the drawer?
Social pressure, for example. Perhaps not going into the “Code Red” territory (if you have seen “A Few Good Men” — great movie, BTW), but it does not have to. Just start with a few news stories of people dying who did not get vaccinated even though they had the choice. Give them names, provide details, make it personal (Stalin’s “The death of one man is a tragedy. The death of millions is a statistic.”). Shame those people — as cowards, afraid of a little “jab”. Perhaps even have these people kill others — by accident of course, but also kinda preventible. If they only did what was right, and rational, and scientific. Create outrage, anger, resentment. Next, remind people, especially those — and there are a lot — who had negative side-effects of the vaccinations, that these people are the ones who “profit by their suffering”, or “courage”, or “contribution”. That these egoists lack solidarity. They are not willing to do something “for the greater good”. They did not suffer, or risk anything, yet enjoy the benefits the vaccinated people provide (perhaps best if they avoid the word “herd immunity“). I guess it will take only a few choice actions to make the climate rather chilly for those who respect individual freedom, which includes the freedom what to do to ones body (“My body, my choice” anyone?). And it might not even be the government — just a few people or organizations with ties to it (usually money runs along these ties).
(Ah, and I forgot … of course, there are other ways, like making life increasingly difficult for those who are not vaccinated. Like requiring frequent tests — a bad idea if you do not have symptoms, high likelihood of false alarms if the overall frequency of infections is low — or other limits. How was it … “there will be no new freedoms”. They don’t have to be, these are constitutional rights, we have them, thank you very much. And yeah, the reasoning will be the risk of transmission or the danger to oneself. As for the risk of transmission, strange, AFAIK it’s still open whether vaccinated people can still transmit the disease, so if that is the reason, it should apply to vaccinated people too. But the more important issue is the second one — you could catch Covid and die. Yup, but that is the individual’s choice, at least, as long as we are more than cattle. You know, livestock that you can cull once one person gets infected.)
How many will break when the climate turns hostile … will be interesting to see. I won’t make any predictions for myself. While I am responsible only for myself (luckily), but everyone has pressure points. We’ll see. Or hopefully we wont.
#2 Current parties in power will use Covid and its regulations to gain advantage in the election
Covid-19 is more a political crisis than a health crisis. It has provided people with power, including people on administrative levels who never should have had it, with … impressive leeway. And we have seen just how many people can be controlled by fear. A nice assessment of who wants freedom and who wants safety, including the “do not hit me I am doing as I am told” kind of “safety”. It’s strange how many people claim not to go with the crowd, to defy it, to claim that they would be in the/a resistance if their government ever turned tyrannical and overstepped its bounds — and then make themselves rationalize the gravest contradictions. Some parts of history make much more sense now.
So yeah, politics has become a(n even greater) problem now. And looking at the powers the government has secured for itself, it’s no wonder they do not want to give it back. Even though those most at risk are vaccinated (if they want to). Partly, at least, because there is an election coming up. And there are lots of things you can do with Covid regulations to give your party an edge. Not in an extreme dictatorial sense (like letting only those who are vaccinated, who are also … perusable … vote, that likely would not fly). But just making it a bit more obnoxious for some groups and motivate your own groups a bit more.
It will be interesting to see how both Covid-19 and the over-the-top regulations will influence the general elections. *Sigh* We’re a long way from “unity, rights, and freedom”.
So, the second half of the year will be interesting. And to be honest, even those two scenarios would be better than the worst case scenarios I think are just too unlikely … at the moment. Like a delayed averse reaction to the vaccinations, killing (most of) those who were vaccinated (e.g., by an overreacting immune system to a new virus strain). Or (for me) even worse, a new mutation becoming extremely deadly for those who are not vaccinated. That would make one hell of a story — especially if the later were done deliberately: First create a low- or rather: selective-threat virus, spreading panic and letting those who are (more) easily convinced clamor for getting vaccinated. Then release an actually deadly version (for all age groups and with a mortality around 80-90%) killing all those unruly people who did not get vaccinated. You’d end up with a docile population — for a while.
But that is just … too unlikely.