Commentary: The worst harm that anti-vaxxers do is to their families

LONDON: There’s a 13-year-old boy whose anti-vax father — an intelligent, accomplished man in his early 50s — died last month of COVID-19.

Go to the father’s Twitter feed and it’s the usual story: He warns followers that governments have “radicalised”, that Pfizer jabs are perilous and long COVID-19 is an invention, then tweets casually that he has tested positive, before his feed suddenly goes silent – forever.

Many vaccinated people enjoy mocking deaths like his. That’s harsh. We all make wrong choices every day, but they don’t usually kill us. Above all, though, vaxenfreude, as it’s now called, ignores the people left behind.

The worst harm that anti-vaxxers do is to their families, whom they expose to daily danger and then sometimes plunge into a grief that cannot speak its name.

The harm will reverberate down the generations. How will it shape the millions of bereaved and their relationship to the rest of us?


Anti-vaxxers will tend to blame the victim’s supposed physical weakness or pretend that the death wasn’t from COVID-19,

For most inhabitants of rich countries, COVID-19 is no longer lethal, but for the voluntarily unvaccinated, it’s a slaughter they don’t understand