"We need to minimise its impact, and restore the economy to its former health as soon as possible."
If we are to treat this as a war on COVID-19, then it should be “total war”. Certain civil liberties have to be curtailed in such a circumstance. It might be “un-British” to have to carry a “vaccine passport”; but there’s nothing especially patriotic about lying in an intensive care unit, fighting for breath, either. We have a right to live as we wish, but no right to live in a way that endangers other people.
The persistence of the virus is now clear, and we are told we must find ways of living with it. Very well, but we need to minimise its impact, and restore the economy to its former health as soon as possible. Central to this is mass, frequent testing, which it seems we are only getting around to now; and also using every possible means to make sure people get vaccinated.
The “vaccine passport” will soon, rightly, be compulsory for international travel, and its internal equivalent, a sort of “green pass”, needs to be brought in as soon as possible. There must be some insistence about this, for the good of the community as a whole.
For employment in sensitive locations, such as care homes and hospitals, it must be compulsory, but also for other places where people tend to mingle, for example supermarkets, on public transport and entertainment venues: no jab, no job.
The same goes for education, as I have written before – for teachers, other school staff and, provided the trials are properly completed and prove the vaccine safe, for pupils. State education should be made conditional on being proven to be virus-free, either by recent negative testing, vaccination or antibody testing. No parent should have the right to send an infected child into a school where it can endanger the lives of other children, or their families.
It is strange that this seems so outrageous. Children may not remain relatively unaffected by the virus forever, as it mutates, and it is possible they could carry it, now and in the future. Vaccination could provide some defence. The principle of inoculating children against illness used to be taken for granted. Almost everyone in the country has had a BCG or MMR jab in the past, before conspiracy theories took a grip on so many. We eventually eliminated smallpox through a global vaccination campaign. Millions of lives have been saved. Millions more can be saved through Covid vaccination, but it needs to be as comprehensive as possible for the herd immunity effects to overwhelm the virus.
For consumers, the case for a “green pass” is also overwhelming, not least on economic grounds. Confidence will be needed to tempt many people back into the pubs, clubs, restaurants, stadiums, theatres, cinemas and all the rest. Some of us, after a year of watching Covid inflict its miseries, are still wary.
I am also acutely conscious that many of my fellow citizens are “vaccine hesitant”, and have picked up some strange ideas about the vaccines, such as the possibility of coming under the mind control of Bill and Melinda Gates.
So, I think I am being rational in remaining cautious about going out into the big wide, Covid-contaminated world. Not all of us are so desperate to get down the pub that we’re prepared to – literally – die for a pint. We need to make the country safe for our lives and our liberties to be restored for good. I do not want to live a future of Covid flare-ups and periodic lockdowns just because we botched yet another chance to send the coronavirus packing. Herd immunity, gained preferably via vaccination, is the only future.
Practically, it’s a huge challenge – but surmountable. We in Britain are not all that efficient at organising this sort of thing, so we should now approach the Israelis, where their “green pass” is well underway, and just pay them to set the exact same thing up in the UK. Or maybe that’s just Bill and Melinda Gates telling me what to say. Not a bad idea, either way.
I have vaccine envy. There. I’ve confessed it. The thought of getting a COVID-19 vaccine makes me impatient, greedy, needy. I yearn for a vaccine the way some people want a mansion or a Tesla or Michelle Obama’s dresses.
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