A Violation of Human Rights or the Health of the Human Race?

By John Kim

Published Date: 2020 / 12 / 14

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www.bioworld.com/articles/435995-south-koreas-genexine-begins-phase-iiia-trials-for-covid-19-vaccine .

The past unsettling year of COVID-19 pandemic has restructured the lives of people from their utmost bases. With more than 65 million confirmed cases of the coronavirus worldwide, schools and workplaces have shifted to virtual environments, facial masks became an indispensable component of everyday wear, and social distancing joined the list of rudimentary etiquettes. As such, people’s lives — our lives — encountered gradual, yet substantial transformations.

This is exactly the reason why Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s recent takeback of his previous comment on mandating COVID-19 vaccination has emerged as a ‘hot potato’ amongst human rights discussions. Certainly, there was nothing controversial about the prime minister’s takeback of his former commentary; no particular political position of his was revealed in this explicit statement, nor did its content offend specific groups of people. The sole reason why Morrison’s takeback arose as rather an ‘interesting’ topic of study was that it questioned the citizens of the contemporary world whether they can continue to observe their positions in this impending ‘new world’: Is mandating vaccination a clear violation of human rights that opposes individuals’ freedom of choice? Or is it an imperative device that must be implemented for the sake of the entire human race?

In the world before the coronavirus, we did not have to ponder about the vaccination of a disease that may threaten the entire human population. According to our conventional understandings, vaccination in such dire circumstances was the paramount priority to prevent further cases of infection and to devise a definite conclusion. However, the occurrence of an actual virus’ international takeover has enabled people to deeply consider the philosophies that underlie the very topic. From strictly secular and scientific perspectives, vaccination is absolutely essential to produce a well-rounded and unquestionable resolution to eradicating new cases of infection. However, it is also undeniable that some simply do not wish to be vaccinated. Regardless of the reason, forcing an individual to receive a particular medical treatment is unjustifiable under any circumstance.
The consequences that may entail the selection of one single policy must also be carefully examined before the actual execution. For instance, the selection of the policy that mandates vaccination may contribute to the construction of the country’s framing as a ‘nation that neglects human rights for the security of its population.’ Similar extremifications, although undesired, will always accompany decisions made and provide potential sources of socio political controversies. While it is true that framings inevitably follow actions, such circumstances must be avoided with the utmost effort.

The advancement in postmodernism by disapproving conventional categorical thinking (aka black-and-white thinking) has enabled the thinkers living today to evaluate multiple aspects of a topic and bring about complex assessments. In this respect, the COVID-19 pandemic has produced an ideal opportunity for students to also participate in the said discussions. Us students must always refrain from fabricating rash conclusions, which are often the products of shallow and oversimplified observations, particularly because the amount of information we have access to is always limited. The case of mandating vaccinations coerce the thinkers today to contemplate from which perspective we should observe the obligation to vaccination: a violation of human rights? or the security of the human race? Answers are never so simple.

Works Cited
McGaughey, Fiona, and Marco Rizzi. “Can Governments Mandate a COVID Vaccination?” The University of Western Australia, The University of Western Australia, 30 Nov. 2020, www.uwa.edu.au/news/article/2020/november/can-governments-mandate-a-covid-vaccination.

Ho, David, and Gina Lee. “South Korea's Genexine Begins Phase I/IIa Trials for COVID-19 Vaccine.” BioWorld RSS, BioWorld, 7 July 2020, www.bioworld.com/articles/435995-south-koreas-genexine-begins-phase-iiia-trials-for-covid-19-vaccine.

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