Refusing to isolate with Covid will kill people – it is the new drink-driving

Tell me, how is going out on the town knowing you’re a viral vector any different from getting behind the wheel under the influence?

James Moore
Saturday 12 February 2022 10:27 GMT
Boris Johnson announces end to Plan B Covid restrictions in England
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“Isolation is there to avoid someone who’s infectious infecting someone else. I actually see it as a public health protection in the same way as we have smoking laws against indoor smoking and laws against driving when you’re under the influence.”

So said Edinburgh University professor Devi Sridhar, who has become one of TV’s go-to public health experts during the pandemic. Sridhar was talking about the government’s plans to remove the requirement in England to isolate when you are infected with Covid.

The problem with this, as Sridhar pointed out, is that it gives a licence to infected people to ride a bus or train, to go shopping, to see a film or a show, to go to the pub, spreading a deadly disease.

Sure, it might still be “recommended” that infectious people stay at home. But it’s also recommended that you don’t drink more than 14 units of alcohol spread across three days in any given week. How many Downing Street employees complied with that one in the midst of Partygate?

This idea, which appears to be doing the rounds solely to buy the big dog a couple more days in his redecorated kennel, is potentially lethal for those most vulnerable to a virus which, in case you hadn’t noticed, is still killing people.

Covid has the unfortunate capacity to infect people even if they are vaccinated. This includes those with compromised immune systems – in which case they need three doses of vaccine (plus a booster) to get the same protection you or I get from two (plus a booster). But whether immunocompromised people manage to get that protection or not, they may simply find themselves in the wrong place at the wrong time.

That’s the disturbing thing about this nasty and erratic virus we’ve become terribly blasé about. It could randomly muck you up every bit as effectively as a drunk driver. Perhaps those of us who are vulnerable to it should stage a demonstration. I suggest meeting up safely in a park, somewhere in Boris Johnson’s constituency. Imagine the response to a bunch of squiffy crips haring around, crashing into stationary vehicles, bins, bus shelters and any passers-by unlucky enough to get in the way.

It could be blackly comic but it’s probably more likely to be tragic. Drink-driving is banned because it’s irresponsible, anti-social and plain lethal. Tell me, how is going out on the town knowing you’re a viral vector after seeing all the wrong red lines on a lateral flow test any different?

Fazilet Hadi, head of policy at Disability Rights UK points out that there remains a small – but still significant – number of disabled people who cannot participate in day-to-day life because of the risk of severe illness or death from Covid. Disability charity Scope said it could leave some people “gambling with their lives”. There are some people who will lose that gamble and die.

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Living in a country that used to pride itself on its decency, I sometimes have to pinch myself. Is this for real or am I still in a coma, like the one I experienced after getting hit by a truck, hallucinating madly? The hallucinations one experiences through post-operation delirium can feel quite real and frightening. But none of the ones I had were as ugly as what Britain is turning into under a government that treats people with disabilities as dispensable.

“To be honest I’ve been trying not to look at the news. It just makes me so f**king angry. I just feel myself boiling over,” said a disabled friend of mine when I asked him about it. I nodded my head in sympathy. I often feel the same way.

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