Writer: Lois

Austria’s freedom fighters hold flags and placards as they protest against their government’s COVID-19 restrictions and vaccine mandate in Hofburg Palace, Vienna, Austria. Photo: Lisi Niesner / Reuters

The Austrian Constitutional Court has issued a five-page letter listing ten questions requesting data from the government to justify its totalitarian COVID-19 measures, like the nationwide vaccine mandate, which begins on February 1, 2022.

The court, which consists of 14 members, put out the questions on January 26 this year in response to complaints from Austrian citizens regarding has received against their government’s pandemic response. Austria’s Health Ministry must respond to the questions by February 18, 2022.

The questions come after the many freedom rallies across the country since 2021, where countless Austrian citizens gathered to protest their government’s authoritarian COVID-19 rules designed to force COVID-19 vaccines on the population and discriminate against the unvaccinated.

The court’s letter began by referencing a news report from October 2021, which revealed that the government would count patients in intensive care from kidney failure who test positive for COVID-19 as hospitalised due to the virus.

“The Constitutional Court therefore requests information as to whether the hospitalisation or death numbers given. . .include all persons infected with SARS-CoV-2 who are hospitalised in normal or intensive care units or who have died ‘of or with’ SARS-CoV-2? If so, why is this method of counting chosen?” reads the letter.

The court also requested details of the virus variants linked to these statistics, age cohorts and percentage allocations, or information about where the infections occurred, like at home or work.

“By what factor does wearing an FFP2 mask indoors or outdoors reduce the risk of infection or transmission?” read another question.

“The ‘lockdown for the unvaccinated’ is likely to be based, among other things, on the consideration that persons without Covid vaccination have a higher risk of hospitalisation than vaccinated persons, which is likely to entail a higher risk for the healthcare system,” the letter also noted.

“What is the effect of the ‘lockdown for the unvaccinated on the hospital burden, expressed in percentages?”

“We came to the conclusion that the lockdown for unvaccinated people in Austria is only justifiable in the event of the threat of an imminent overburdening of intensive-care capacity,” Austria’s Health Minister Wolfgang Mückstein said at a press conference.

The court letter also asked about COVID-19 vaccines, including their efficacy in reducing the risk of severe illness and transmission.

“By what factor does COVID vaccination reduce the risk of severe disease?” wrote the court.

“In media reports, there was talk of up to 95 per cent. Now, the general risk of dying from Covid-19 (not differentiated by age and health status) currently appears to be 0.1516 per cent. What does a stated vaccination efficacy of, for example, 95 per cent refer to? What do absolute and relative risk reduction mean in this context?”

The court also asked for a comparison in COVID-19 related hospitalisation risks between unvaccinated and double-vaccinated 25-year-olds and unvaccinated and fully vaccinated 65-year-olds.

Finally, the letter requested the country’s excess mortality data, citing a December report from the Austrian daily newspaper Der Standard which stated that COVID-19 deaths had fallen by one-third in 2021 compared to 2020. However, the paper also claimed weekly excess mortality had risen.

“Is this true? If so, what was the total excess mortality in 2021 that could not be explained by Covid-19 deaths, and what is the explanation for this excess mortality?” the court asked.

Austria’s Chancellor Karl Nehammer said at a Saturday press conference that from February 5, restaurants could remain open until midnight instead of 10 pm. He also said the government would ease rules banning unvaccinated individuals from stores and restaurants from February 12.

Austria reported 34,748 new COVID-19 cases as of Friday. However, according to Mr Nehammer, hospitalisation rates remain low. Austrian officials predict the nation’s Omicron wave to peak within the first week of February.

Other European nations like England and Spain have already announced they will lift COVID-19 restrictions, and plan to treat the virus like the common flu once Omicron has peaked.

Last week, Denmark declared the virus is no longer a so-called socially critical disease and will end most restrictions from February 1 this year.

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