Covid-19 kills coronavirus and vaccine skeptic Robin Fransman, 53
Robin Fransman, a well-known critic of the Dutch coronavirus policy and an outspoken skeptic of the Covid-19 vaccines, died on Tuesday from Covid-19. The 53-year-old first revealed on Twitter that he tested positive for the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus on the evening of December 3. His life came to an end on December 28 at the OLVG hospital in Amsterdam, Parool reported.
The economist first spoke out about the coronavirus measures in April 2020 in an article for the magazine ESB, for which he occasionally contributed articles dating back to at least 2016. In that article he examined the potential economic impact of the coronavirus measures, and called for a better cost-benefit analysis of the first lockdown that takes the quality-adjusted life-year (QALY) into account, and not just survival. The QALY is a measure of the burden caused by disease, with one QALY equivalent to a year of perfect health. He also acknowledged the long-term symptoms people face as a result of Covid-19, a syndrome later called Long Covid.
However, as time went on, he became increasingly critical and used his social media platforms to promote multiple conspiracy theories, some of which denounced the concept of Long Covid as a fantasy. He also downplayed the effectiveness of Covid-19 vaccines, and vowed to not yet get vaccinated against the disease. He said on November 28 in an answer to a question on Twitter that he himself was not vaccinated, but that it was fine for people in vulnerable health to get a jab. His infection was diagnosed five days later, he was hospitalized soon after, and he died one month to the day he sent his tweet.
Nee. Vaccineren is prima voor kwetsbaren.— Robin Fransman (@RF_HFC) November 28, 2021
Fransman was the founder of Herstel-NL, a controversial organization that lobbied for an alternative to lockdowns in the Netherlands starting in February. The group proposed scrapping the lockdown in favor of "safe zones" only for people who have vulnerable health. The plan was almost immediately derided and widely panned for proposing to relegate the elderly and those with health conditions to a second-class status through no fault of their own.
Herstel-NL initially included support from prominent people, including Professor Coen Teulings, the leader of the countries largest planning office, as well as Rabobank director Barbara Baarsma and economist Bas Jacobs. All three cut ties to the group soon after the lockdown alternative was publicized. Fransman alleged that they faced political pressure to split from Herstel-NL, but he refused to specify from where that pressure originated. Those who resigned from the group and several Cabinet members rejected Fransman's allegation.
In a later interview with newspaper AD, he said that what Herstel-NL wants is to give industry sectors space to make their own safe decisions for everyone. Lockdowns and strict measures may help some but not others, he argued. "Because this is not safe for students, for people in the hospitality industry, for shopkeepers and many other groups in society. The lives of the vulnerable are important, but also the lives of the less vulnerable. It's really not our intention to just throw open every door. We need to find a better balance."
Corona positief. Het werd ook een keer tijd.— Robin Fransman (@RF_HFC) December 3, 2021
A healthcare worker on Twitter remarked about his death in response to Fransman's tweet about his coronavirus status. "How intensely sad and unnecessary. Strength to those surviving him," she wrote.
That drew a reply from another user, who wrote, "Unnecessary certainly, but a personal choice; by not wanting to vaccinate, it may be a lesson for others. And he's not the first to rely on his natural immunity." Several others commented that it was disrespectful to discuss Fransman's vaccination status in posthumous replies to his tweets.