Austria’s parliament is to introduce a national vaccine lottery as it prepares to vote in a new law which will make Covid-19 vaccinations mandatory for adults from next month.

As the daily infection rate reached a new record, all lawmakers, including those of the extreme right, will vote for the new law.

The lottery will run alongside the vaccine mandate in an attempt to incentivise wary citizens to get vaccinated, with the promise of winning vouchers worth 500 euros to be used in shops, hotels, restaurants and culture and sports venues.

The public, no matter how old or young, will receive one ticket for every shot taken. For booster shots, there are three total. 

Under the vaccine mandate though, those holding out against the jab can face fines of up to 3,600 euros (£2,990) from mid-March.  

What is the chance of you winning the lottery for vaccinations? Vouchers!”, stated Karl Nehammer, Austrian Chancellor.

Since November, hundreds of thousands have protested against this unpopular measure in Austrian weekend rallies almost every week. 

At present, 72% of Austrian citizens have received their vaccinations. That’s in line the European Union average of just over 70% and a few percentage points less than neighboring countries like France or Italy.

Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer presents new COVID-19 regulations at a press conference in Vienna, Austria, Jan. 6, 2022. Austria's parliament is due to vote today on plans to introduce a COVID-19 vaccine mandate for the adult population, the first of its kind in Europe

At a press conference held in Vienna (Austria), Jan. 6, 2022, Karl Nehammer, Austria’s Chancellor, presents the new COVID-19 regulations. The Austrian parliament will vote on today’s plans to implement a COVID-19 vaccination mandate for adults. It is the first such mandate in Europe.

People holding placards gathered at Heldenplatz to protest the government's Covid-19 measures in Vienna, Austria on January 08, 2022

Heldenplatz was occupied by protestors who held placards against the Covid-19 government measures. Heldenplatz, Vienna, Austria, January 8, 2022.

Under the new law, after an initial 'entry phase' those holding out against the jab can face fines of up to 3,600 euros (£2,990) from mid-March. Tens of thousands have demonstrated against mandatory vaccination in regular weekend rallies since the measure was announced in November (Jan 08 protests pictured)

Under the new law, after an initial ‘entry phase’ those holding out against the jab can face fines of up to 3,600 euros (£2,990) from mid-March. There have been protests every weekend since November, when mandatory vaccination was first announced. (Jan 08 protests shown)

Nehammer indicated that he wants there to be financial rewards for those who are vaccinated.

Initial plans were to make the mandate available to everyone over 14 but now it is only applicable to adults. Pregnant women are exempted from this requirement.

Before the start of Thursday’s parliament debate, Chancellor Karl Nehammer said to reporters that vaccination is a way for society to have lasting, continuous freedom.

In December’s election, the conservative reaffirmed his belief that this was an intensely debated topic and a subject of great passion. 

The vaccine mandate proved to be wildly inpopular. Austrians have witnessed widespread protests almost every day since the November announcement.

On Wednesday, the government said it would create “security zones” around vaccination centers and health facilities so that police can refuse to take away any demonstrators.

Austria has seen nearly 14,000 deaths from Covid and over 1.5 million Covid cases among a population that numbers around nine million.

The Wednesday daily infected total reached a new record high of 27,000.

Globally, compulsory vaccinations against Covid still remain uncommon, but countries such as Ecuador, Tajikistan Turkmenistan and Indonesia have implemented them.

Critics have said that mandating vaccines is unethical. This would make it difficult for many people to maintain control of their health. 

A doctor administers a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine in Vienna, Austria April 26, 2021

Vienna, Austria: A doctor injects the Pfizer BioNTech CoVID-19 vaccine to a patient. April 26, 2021

Compulsory vaccinations against Covid remain rare worldwide, though Ecuador, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Indonesia and Micronesia have introduced such schemes. Hundreds of thousands of Austrians have protested against the measure in recent weeks

Globally, compulsory vaccinations against Covid still remain uncommon, but countries like Ecuador, Tajikistan Turkmenistan and Indonesia have implemented such programs. In recent weeks, hundreds of thousands of Austrians protested the move.

In the UK meanwhile, tens of thousands of NHS staff who have not had the Covid vaccine face the sack in just a fortnight. 

The UK does not have a mandatory vaccine policy, but healthcare workers must be vaccinated even if they are exempt from medical reasons. 

Every frontline worker who has not been given a jab, will be invited to formal meetings beginning February 4. They will then receive a warning about their potential dismissal.

NHS England Guidance states that notices are issued starting on the date indicated by the guidance. March 31 is the last day of the notice period. 

The Covid jab is required for all frontline employees. This means they must get both doses before April 1st. 

In some trusts, as many as 12 per cent of staff have not been vaccinated, meaning those hospitals could lose more than one in 10 workers if they do not come forward for the vaccine in the coming weeks. The top 10 trusts with the lowest vaccine uptake among staff are all in London or Birmingham

One in ten staff members in some trusts has not had their vaccines administered. That means hospitals in these areas could see a drop in workers in coming weeks. London and Birmingham have the highest levels of vaccine participation among employees.

British Medical Association (BMA), argued that there’s a distinction between advocating for compulsory vaccinations and believing that every worker in healthcare should get it. It also warned that any mandate to mandate vaccines has ‘legal and ethical implications’ that need to be taken into consideration and that staff who decline to receive the vaccine were ‘of grave concern.

Similar to the Royal College of Nursing, RCN said it ‘looks set backfire’. The Royal College Midwives warned that compulsory vaccinations won’t only lead to a further decline in staffing but also have a “catastrophic” impact.

There are widespread concerns about the possibility that this would “further marginalise” those who have been vaccinated-suspects and would “put more pressure on a greatly depleted workforce by forcing people from their jobs”.  

Dr Kamran Abbasi — editor of the British Medical Journal — slammed Facebook for 'censoring' its report into allegations of malpractice during Pfizer's Covid vaccine trials

Dr Kamran Abbasi — editor of the British Medical Journal — slammed Facebook for ‘censoring’ its report into allegations of malpractice during Pfizer’s Covid vaccine trials

It comes as the editor of the British Medical Journal slammed Facebook for ‘censoring’ its report into allegations of malpractice during Pfizer’s Covid vaccine trials.   

Kamran Abbasi accused social media giant Facebook of suppressing “fully fact-checked” journalism and “trying to regulate how people think”. 

In November, a BMJ investigation found that Pfizer may have had a contract to run a few of its original jab trials. This could have led to distorted findings and falsified data. 

This report was created using dozens of documents from within the company, including photos, audio-recordings videos, and audio-recordings. It also included statements made by three ex employees. 

However, when users shared the journal entries on Facebook they were automatically assigned a “missing context” label. 

Additionally, the article shared was marked with a warning about its potential to mislead and a link that will take you to an fact-checking site. 

Facebook was criticised by the BMJ for its post on Pfizer vaccine trial mistakes. It had been labeled a’missing context.’ The image above shows an article shared by one user. A note is attached from Facebook.

Following a failure to appeal to Mark Zuckerberg’s request to have his tags removed via an open letter, the BMJ will be filing a complaint at Facebook’s Oversight Board. 

Dr Abbasi wrote in the BMJ today: ‘We should all be very worried that Facebook, a multibillion dollar company, is effectively censoring fully fact checked journalism that is raising legitimate concerns about the conduct of clinical trials.’

He stated that Facebook’s actions wouldn’t prevent The BMJ’s doing right but the question really is why Facebook is acting this way. Its worldview is what? 

Is this ideology? Are there commercial or other interests at stake? Are they incompetent?