COVID-19: Horse Dewormers and Other Nonsense

When the anti-vaxxers get to court

COVID-19: Horse Dewormers and Other Nonsense

Pete McMartin’s recent column in the Vancouver Sun summed up the zeitgeist of the day. “Enough is enough,” he said. “I’m done with all of the COVID-19 skeptics. I’m done with those whose ignorance of science is so profound and intractable… they put their trust in celebrities, politicians, and quacks.”

The anti-vaxxer disinformation machine has been so successful at seeding doubt about COVID-19 vaccines that more than 98% of deaths from COVID-19 in the US now occur among the unvaccinated. ICU beds that would normally be used by cancer and other critically ill patients are now taken up by sick anti-vaxxers. You’d think the virus only targets those who bravely stand up to government and who refuse to be vaccinated in the name of FrEeDuMb. There must be a conspiracy. Somewhere. Somehow.

The media is filled with accounts of vaccine refuseniks about to be intubated, pleading with nurses for the vaccine, only to be told it’s too late. Or the obituaries of anti-vaxxers who claimed on social media COVID-19 was a hoax and that the rest of us were all clueless sheeple (that is, before they died from COVID-19). Or those who are hospitalized with COVID-19 and who refused the vaccine because they read on Facebook that the horse de-wormer “Ivermectin” was a better treatment (even Ivermectin’s manufacturer, Merck, disavows use of this veterinary product as a treatment for COVID-19).

Courts and administrative tribunals will soon deal with the legality of mandatory vaccinations and vaccine passports; whether someone can be forced to vaccinate or be denied entry into public places; whether someone can lose their job if they refuse the jab; whether a lawyer can be guilty of conduct unbecoming for refusing to be vaccinated (thereby putting clients and staff at risk); and in the case of the medical profession, whether doctors and nurses can be disciplined for spreading anti-vaxxer disinformation. How will adjudicators deal with nonsense arguments and quackadoodle conspiracy theories that may be raised in legal proceedings?

Now don’t get me wrong. Testing the authority of government, a regulator, or an employer to require vaccination against COVID-19 is a live constitutional, human rights, and employment law issue (particularly in circumstances where a person can’t be vaccinated owing to an underlying medical condition). But what about the current anti-vaxxer nonsense narrative propagated by the anti-government, FrEeDuMb crowd who have done their own ReSeArcH on YouTube and Facebook? What will courts say to a litigant who argues that lockdowns, mask mandates, and the requirement for vaccinations are part of a “mass psychosis”; that it's all a conspiracy created by big pharma, the mainstream media, and a
totalitarian government to deprive us of our rights? How will they deal with arguments that the vaccine has not been tested enough and “could” have harmful long-term side effects? (Ignoring that the harmful long-term side effects from death by COVID-19 are somewhat worse). How will they deal with claims that COVID-19 is just a bad flu and that deaths are overstated due to “comorbidities” (Grandma may have had COVID-19, but it was really the hangnail that did her in). How will courts deal with the followers of anti-vaxxer disinformation social media darlings in medical circles who claim the vaccines are unsafe or unnecessary, notwithstanding the fact that current COVID-19 deaths overwhelmingly occur among the unvaccinated? Likewise, when a litigant refuses the vaccine because they prefer taking a horse de-wormer (because, of course, it’s “their body and their choice”), how seriously should this defence be dealt with in legal proceedings?

Everyone has a right to be heard in litigation, but when it’s just anti-vaxxer nonsense being argued, I’m expecting a very firm line in the sand to be drawn by courts and adjudicators.

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