There is a great deal more to freedom from Covid than being able to get drunk in a crowd

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It is extremely difficult to make any sense of almost any of the discussion on Covid right now. That is not because it is impossible to make sense of Covid. That would not seem to be hard. What is impossible to understand is the attitude that so many, from the prime minister, to many of his party, to much of the press corp, seem to have towards it.

We are very clearly in a third wave of Covid now, as I predicted we would be. It was not very hard to do so: a simple look at the evidence was all that was required.

As a result of that third wave cases are rising rapidly. We have no idea what the true impact of vaccines on this wave might be. What seems certain is that the AZ vaccine is not of great use in managing it. What is absolutely certain is that the UK’s failure to properly double vaccinate people in short time scales has left more people vulnerable to it than is necessary.

The result of this combination of facts is really not very hard to predict. There are going to be a great many really quite sick people in this country. They will be more infectious than any previous Covid sufferers have been. Despite vaccines this wave is going to spread very quickly as a result. Many people will require hospitalisation. If oxygen, or the ability to deliver it, runs out then some of them are going to die, completely unnecessarily. And the capacity of the NHS will be threatened again. That’s what working this out means.

And yet it seems that all the press can ask Johnson is why he might think it necessary to delay a very minor change to Covid regulation, which is the stage four unlocking that seems to be almost inconsequential in the grand scheme of this whole unlocking plan. It’s as if large weddings and pop festivals and ordering at the bar in pubs are the most important issues in everyone’s lives, when that very clearly is not true. These things do not represent ‘freedom’ despite the representation that they might in the press.

What matters much more than those things are people’s well-being. That is, preventing people getting ill, stopping them dying, and also making sure that despite the fact that we are to have another quite literally deadly wave of this disease there appear to be no plans at present to help businesses and individuals who might be impacted all over again.  These are the things that matter. And they are being ignored.

What should we be discussing now? Let me suggest three things.

The first is how we can really plan to eliminate Covid. That would require a plan to fully vaccinate the UK, and then spread that benefit as far as possible around the world. It would require continuing restrictions now until the benefit of that palm is delivered. And it would require considerable  travel bans until the world shares the benefit. Instead what is happening is the Great Barrington Declaration plan, which is to unblock and let the virus rip until the point when the NHS is overwhelmed, again, with many deaths arising is what his actually being delivered by this government.

Second, it would require a co-ordinated plan for recovery, knowing that far from having a boom, as some rather foolish economists predict, many businesses are now tottering on the edge of failure, which situation will only get worse as this crisis continues. What is required is a plan to save the best, and rebuild work for others.

Third, would be a plan for the recovery of society. That’s a plan for inclusiveness, for education, for climate change, for beating the problems arising from inequality, for building social care, and more. But there is no hint of any of this.

We are a very long way from being over Covid as yet. Freedom from it is not represented by being able to go to the bar to get a drink, spreading germs on the way. Freedom from it will be when we see the better society that we could build in a post-Covid world. That would be the type of transformation that was dreamed about in 1918 and that was delivered in 1945. Instead our aspiration is to apparently get drunk in a crowd. It’s chilling thought that our ambition is now so limited.