PRAGUE — The story of an unvaccinated Czech folk singer who died after she celebrated catching the coronavirus has gripped the nation after her son said her death should serve as a warning to those resisting vaccination.
Soon after the singer, Hana Horka, 57, died on Sunday, her bereaved son, Jak Rek, poured his heart out on social media and to Czech news outlets — offering both a plea for people to be vaccinated and a warning against taking the virus lightly.
Despite what the son described as her family’s strong encouragement, Ms. Horka refused to get vaccinated and rejoiced once her husband and her son, both vaccinated, contracted Covid over the Christmas holiday.
Her son said that instead of trying to isolate herself, she deliberately exposed her self to the virus. She was sick for a few days but seemed to be improving.
In a Facebook post, she celebrated her apparent recovery and naturally acquired immunity, saying she looked forward to “sauna, swimming, cultural life” — all denied to her under virus regulations because of her refusal to be vaccinated, but potentially available once she could present proof of recovery from infection.
Two days later her condition rapidly declined, and she died.
Her son stated that the only warning her family received was her complaining of an aching back.
“We rubbed it with an ointment, and she went to rest for a little while,” he told the Czech news media, adding that she had died within minutes. “This is how fast it was.”
Family members claim that she died from the virus. Official autopsy results have not yet been published.
Mr. Rek, 23, took to social media, blaming those who spread lies about vaccines for his mother’s death.
“You took away my mom, who based her arguments on your convictions,” he said, directing his comments to the opponents of vaccination. “I despise you.”
According to Our World in Data, 63 percent of Czechs have not been vaccinated. This is a far lower rate than in most Western European countries. The country is now reporting more cases than any time during the pandemic with around 30,000 new cases reported Wednesday.
Earlier this month, thousands demonstrated in Prague and elsewhere against any possible introduction of vaccine mandates. The government reacted to public pressure and announced that it would not allow mandatory vaccinations for some sections of the population.
As Ms. Horka’s story gained international attention, her son said he was not going to make any further comments. He told reporters, however, that he hoped that his personal experience would shake the public.
“People are not interested in numbers and graphs,” he said. “Unless there is a legitimate reason not to get vaccinated, in health-related matters, I believe we can’t pretend it is a question of individual responsibility.”
Source: NY Times