What if the vaccine isn’t enough? We must plan for all scenarios

While we can hope for the best, says Vince Cable, we need to prepare for the worst: severe pandemic restrictions through 2021 and beyond

Tuesday 12 January 2021 15:19
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<p>Boris Johnson visits a vaccination centre in Bristol</p>

Boris Johnson visits a vaccination centre in Bristol

Most of us, including the government, are assuming that if the mass vaccination goes ahead speedily we shall see relaxation of the Covid restrictions in March and be largely free of them in the summer. The economy will bounce back and we can begin to enjoy the Roaring Twenties with a good holiday in the sun. My own sense of optimism is fuelled by the fact that I am in line to get my first vaccine jab this week and I already feel safer and freer.

But maybe that is wishful thinking? What if the vaccination rollout is slower than we hope (and impeded by idiotic NHS bureaucracy, such as the requirement that volunteers should have a level 2 “safeguarding” qualification in case they encounter children)? What if another variant of the virus arrives that requires new vaccines and repeat vaccination programmes? What if there are sufficient numbers who fail to get vaccinated – because of ignorance, groundless prejudice or fear – as to keep the pandemic alive?

Someone has to ask these “what if” questions and plan accordingly. Our government seems incapable of doing so, which is why there were no pandemic preparations, despite warnings, a year ago and apparently almost no planning for the very predictable “second wave”. It is perhaps human nature to hope for the best and our prime minister seems to have more of this trait than most.

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