Clapton has been a longstanding critic of the government’s coronavirus restrictions, and in December teamed up with fellow sceptic Van Morrison for the track ‘Stand and Deliver’, one of many anti-lockdown songs Morrison recorded and which were met with significant backlash.
Speaking to Oracle Films, who describe themselves as “a filmmaking team fighting for open debate and freedom of information,” Clapton said he first became “disenchanted and suspicious” with the government during Brexit.
During the first UK lockdown in 2020, Clapton said he began to consume “alternative data” about the pandemic on YouTube and from the group of academics behind the Great Barrington Declaration, whose call for ‘focussed protection’ for those at risk from coronavirus and a return to normal life for all others has been widely criticised by numerous public health bodies including the World Health Organisation.
“The more I got into that, the more I realised I was distancing myself not only from the government but from the rest of the public too,” Clapton said. Later he said he became involved in anti-lockdown communities on apps like Telegram.
Describing the fact he had to cancel a world tour as “devastating,” Clapton said he considered leaving the UK entirely, but had received backlash in America over his collaboration with Morrison. “The minute I began to say anything about the lockdown here, and my concerns, I was labelled a Trump supporter,” he said. “I got some pretty heavy feedback.”
Repeating his previously-stated scepticism about the coronavirus vaccine, Clapton said he received his for the sake of his children, but that side effects then left him “out for the count for about a week,” and severely worsened his existing peripheral neuropathy, leading to “agony” and “chronic pain.”
He added that the second dose left him unable to use his hands for three weeks, and that he still “can’t touch anything cold or hot” without the use of gloves.
He said that he was concerned about how vaccines will effect his children in the long term. “To talk to my daughters about, that they may not to be able to have kids, they probably don’t care. That’s one of the risks I take by doing this. They’re going to look at me like, ‘Why don’t you just keep your mouth shut, dad?'”
There is no evidence to suggest that the coronavirus vaccine can adversely affect fertility in either men or women.
He later said of his family: “I don’t want to lose their trust and love,” and said that he has lost friends due to his stance.
“I would try to reach out to fellow musicians and sometimes I just don’t hear from them anymore. My phone doesn’t ring very often. I don’t get that many texts and emails any more. It’s quite noticeable.”
Elsewhere, Clapton criticised celebrities from ethnic minorities encouraging people from similar backgrounds to take the vaccine as “guilt tripping their own communities. That broke my heart and made me so angry.”
He also said that government advertisements promoting vaccination “stepped into sadism for me. The photos of people on buses saying ‘Don’t let their sacrifice be in vain.’ That’s bad, it’s very dark. It’s victimisation is what it is.”
A large number of figures from the music and entertainment world have received COVID-19 vaccines or encouraged the public to get theirs – including Judas Priest’s Rob Halford, Demi Lovato, Morgan Freeman, Dolly Parton, Queen’s Roger Taylor, Ozzy Osbourne, Alice Cooper, Elton John, Samuel L Jackson, and Willie Nelson.