It seems to have been forgotten remarkably quickly that the “roadmap” out of lockdown was supposed to be contingent, driven by data not dates, and that the indicative timetable was a set of “not before” days, rather than deadlines to be reached almost at all costs. Not any more.
In recent days a kind of bogus freedom fever has overtaken ministers. All talk of flattening the sombrero, sending coronavirus packing, and defeating the invisible enemy has been silenced. Now the nation has been told to just go away and get used to “living with the virus”, much as with flu, accepting the inevitable risks and damage of infection, including long-term disability and death. It is as if the government were in a parallel universe, where the Delta variant isn’t spreading at an alarming rate, and so rapidly that, despite the incomplete protections of a partially vaccinated population, and a lower fatality rate, it will inevitably surge and there will be more waves of infection.
It is not a choice between a wave of illness now, resulting in a smaller wave in winter; as the virus progresses and evolves, there may be many more deadly waves. The choice is between patience now, with longer-term protection as the vaccination programme completes its work, or, frankly, letting the virus rip, and especially through the young.
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