Author`s name Timothy Bancroft-Hinchey

Covid-19 and Johnson’s gamble

Back to normal. Back to a spike in cases, hospitalizations and deaths. Politics before the People, it’s the economy, stupid! The UK heads for Hades.

In the midst of this latest global pandemic, common sense seems to have flown out of the window, however incredible it may seem given all the collective knowledge we have gathered over the years. If we look at the history book, we are practically where we were one century ago with so-called Infuenza A H1N1 (Spanish Flu, which was not from Spain but from the USA) and if we turn back just one page, we see that we are back where we were at this time last year. We are going round and round in circles because policymakers are failing us.

Common sense, not conspiracy theories

Talking about common sense, forget all the conspiracy theories that this is a master plan to cull those members of society more dependent on the State, such as pensioners. It just so happens that their defences are weaker and so they are more susceptible to the illness. Forget the theories about injecting micro-chips with the vaccine. It just so happens that this is one of the main means we have to control the spread of the virus, not the only one but an important one. Forget the denial theories which say the disease does not exist. Go ask the families of those who have died from it. Mine included.

England marching to the gateway of Hell

Talking about common sense, look what the government is doing in England. The headlines are mind-boggling. It will no longer be mandatory to use face masks after July 19th, compulsory social distancing norms will also be scrapped. The country is a handful of days away from plotting a one-way ticket to the gateway of Hell.

This blasé attitude by the Johnson government needs to be confronted, with common sense, because this political approach is based upon two fallacies. First, trusting that people do not need to be told what to do and thinking that the law does not need to be enforced and secondly, taking decisions based upon some pie-in-the-sky idea that the virus will just disappear now that people are getting vaccinated.

Politics by Excel Sheet Management

This political approach is understandable from an Excel Sheet Management point of view. Come up with some sexy soundbites, tell the people that the vaccination program has smashed the ball out of the park, tell them that it is an extremely rare occurrence for people with both vaccinations to catch Covid, rarer even for them to be hospitalized and even rarer for them to die.

The problem is that this is not exactly what scientists are saying. Given that there are still so many unknowns about the validity of the vaccines (at least six months but nobody knows for how much longer), about the possibility of breakthrough events (fully vaccinated people catching Covid, being hospitalized or even dying) and about the effectiveness of the vaccines against new variants, the general consensus is to urge caution. The bottom line is that Johnson’s policy is paramount to shooting in the dark and hoping for the best.

The walking public health risks

Secondly, people do need to be told what to do. Most are sensible, but a lot are not and a sizeable number of them in the UK have proven that they cannot be trusted to take this pandemic and its risks seriously. These people are walking public health risks. Tell them they do not have to wear a mask and they never will, or else they will walk around crowded spaces with it dangling from an ear, or clasped to the arm, or sitting under the chin like some form of cosmetic accessory.

Putting the two together, and especially after packed Wimbledon and Wembley venues, wait two weeks until the end of July and watch the statistics, then tell me I was not right in writing this article.

In every single country where they have opened up after lockdown, cases have shot up exponentially. Healthcare workers, fully vaccinated, are dying. The UK is not an oasis and while it would like to classify itself as an eternal exception, the statistics there will be the same as everywhere else.

More unknowns than answers

The plain truth is that in countries where there have been weak vaccination programs, there have been more cases but that does not mean that the UK has passed some safety threshold. Let us look at the facts. Thousands of breakthrough cases have been reported in the USA, including many deaths. In the UK, the recent Delta variant has caused fifty deaths among those with both vaccinations, 46 per cent of the total. In a climate in which we know so little about validity dates of vaccines and their effectiveness against new variants, common sense says continue to wear one mask, or two in public spaces, restrict use of public transportation to a minimum, distance work where possible, tele-shop and see about tele-schooling for the kids, at least until the scientific community has more answers to the unknowns.

And don’t say you have not been warned, in this column, more than once

The author can be contacted at timothy.hinchey@gmail.com