Making Anti-Vaxxing a Crime
Before we start, we need your help quickly. Today’s Daily Briefing is the 86th we’ve released, which means we’re closing in fast on 100 episodes. To celebrate 100 episodes we’re going to do a Daily Briefing live stream which goes through 100 crazy, funny or weird news stories from 2020 with me presenting them in Daily Briefing style – don’t worry there will also be twists and surprises, making news reading slightly harder for me than it already is.
However, before we get into any of that – we need your help sourcing 100 stories. So we want you to email us news stories we should feature more more weird, more bizarre and more funny the better. So we can coordinate them all, email your stories (ideally with sources) to firstname.lastname@example.org. Also make sure you’ve subscribed to the TLDR Daily YouTube channel and hit the bell so you’ll be notified when that special stream goes live. Anyway, that’s all for now, onto the regularly scheduled briefing…
So, let’s get right into it: anti-vaxxers. Right now, they seem to be a significant obstacle to the path out of the pandemic. As the coronavirus is still remorselessly ripping through our societies destroying families, businesses and livelihoods many are looking to a vaccine to get us back to some semblance of normal. Fortunately, we were all given some much-needed good news yesterday: the Pfizer vaccine appears to be 90% effective, much higher than many scientists even hoped for. However, while the Prime Minister has attempted to manage expectations, urging people not to put too much faith in the vaccine progress – anti-vaxxers likely didn’t have any faith in it anyway, which causes quite a problem.
If enough people refuse to take the vaccine, then we will not build up a herd-immunity to the virus. This ends one of the pathways out of the pandemic. This is exactly why some scientific organisations, such as The Royal Society and British Academy, have advocated for a change in the law to make spreading anti-vaccine myths a criminal offence.
Cleverly, they’ve stated that they believe people should be “inoculated” against falsehoods spread online. Such falsehoods have already seemingly managed to find a foothold in society – with 36% of the UK supposedly either being uncertain or unlikely to take the vaccine.
Free speech advocates may be hesitant to back this legislation, even if they don’t believe in the anti-vaxx movement, claiming that it puts us one step closer to enforced government thinking and making 1984 a nonfiction book. However, others will argue that free speech has always had it’s limitations, and that laws exist across the world prohibiting things like denial of the holocaust and other generic speech that harms public health – and this law would be no different.
We’ll leave it up to you to decide whether backing such a law is right or not.
A Meatless McDonald’s
In the second news story today, McDonalds is set to announce its own ‘McPlant’ vegan range in 2021. As a part of this move, the franchise would offer chicken alternatives, meatless burgers and breakfast sandwiches.
Part of the move has been motivated by concerns over the effect of meat on health. In addition to this, it has been claimed by the BBC that McDonalds were also motivated by the effect of the meat industry on the environment and animal welfare.
While some will undoubtedly be happy about this move, some will claim that the introduction of plant-based alternatives came too late, and that McDonalds’ competitors got there first. KFC already has a vegan burger, for example.
However, irrespective of how long it took them to introduce plant-based food, many vegetarians and vegans will be delighted to know that they will have more choices when visiting McDonalds – and will be able to eat something other than chips and a fruit bag!
The Toll of Lockdown
In the final story today, it has been revealed that children are really suffering in the various lockdowns that residents of the UK have been placed in over the last few months. While the lockdown has inevitably had a positive impact on reducing the spread of the virus and has saved many, many lives, Ofstead have revealed that childrens’ development has been set back. Some children have reverted back to nappies, others have forgotten how to use a knife and fork, and others have lost their ‘stamina’ for reading.
These account for the hardest-hit children by the pandemic. However, they also identified two other broad groups: those that have slipped back in their learning and those that found lockdown a positive experience.
The majority of the children in the 900 schools they visited fit into the first of these two categories. The closure of schools set them back, but this wasn’t as detrimental to them as the hardest hit group we discussed first. The interesting finding about the children who found lockdown a positive experience was that those in families with more money weren’t necessarily those that liked lockdown. The findings show that those from a ‘supportive’ family found it a positive experience, as they had more family time. This was irrespective of family wealth.
So, while lockdowns continue to be discussed and implemented – it looks unlikely that schools will be closed. The Prime Minister is always keen to stress that schools will not close due to the impact they will have on children. This backs his belief up.
Others may argue, though, that the virus is more of a threat to families and school children than the impact the lockdowns have had on childrens’ mental and physical health. As ever, we’ll leave it up to you to decide
For those of you who think the news is too long, be sure to check out tomorrow’s daily briefing.