Britain in the grips of a false ‘post-Covid’ atmosphere - GulfToday

Britain in the grips of a false ‘post-Covid’ atmosphere

Sean O'Grady


Associate Editor of the Independent.

Associate Editor of the Independent.


Illustrative image.

He’s a funny fellow, Boris Johnson, isn’t he? He relaxes “lockdown” too rapidly and too soon – I’m talking about the last two relaxations at least – and then starts “raging”, as the newspapers report, because not enough young folk have gotten round to having a jab, let alone getting double dosed.

They’re busy people, this age group, and they’ve got many demands on their time. They’ve also been a bit freaked out, I should think, by the very rare side effects of the AstraZeneca vaccine. So the authorities have given them more choice in the matter of which vaccine to take (so much for a silent conspiracy to inflict harm, by the way).

But, basically, over these past weeks, young people been getting on with doing their duty to themselves and to their friends and family (especially older members), and getting inoculated. Not so long ago they were being praised as a sensible and conscientious generation. Now they enrage the prime minister so much he wants to make them show vaccine passports to get into nightclubs or go to university lectures. Such harsh measures might have become necessary at some point but the vaccination programme was proceeding well, despite the efforts of the anti-vaxxers.

Yet the fact is that the prime minister, in his rush to please his boss (The Telegraph), ended most of the last public health precautions before the vaccination programme was practically complete. And now he is blaming the young for his own misjudgements. Typical.

So, surprise, suprise, the students and (over-18) teenagers are being blamed by the government for the relatively low take-up among the under-30s, as if a whole cohort wanted to just pull the bed clothes over their heads and have some more kip rather than toddle down to the vaccination centre.

What’s changed, I might respectfully suggest, is that on 19 July, on the over-hyped so-called “freedom day”, the government removed the last collective incentives younger people had to get community herd immunity over the line and make it safe for the government to unlock the night economy, and let people buy their drinks at the bar, as God and nature intended. Now there is both no collective incentive to do so, nor much individual incentive because Covid doesn’t affect the young as badly (though complications and long Covid may last a lifetime).

The government has also created a false “post-Covid” atmosphere, as people assume that if restrictions are lifted then the pandemic must be almost over – hence the frustrations over the “pingdemic” and self isolation. When Sajid Javid said people who were being cautious and still observing social distancing and wearing face masks were “cowering in fear”, he betrayed the government’s true beliefs and policy intentions.

The truth is that the young are being made to bear the burden of getting to the end of this pandemic far too soon anyway, when case numbers are still high and, though falling now, may escalate again when the schools re-assemble in a few weeks. They are the ones now going into hospital and intensive care – and are being blamed for their own sickness by a prime minister trying to save his own well-upholstered backside. It’s as cynical a ploy as any that he has perpetrated on the people.

The terrible thing is that Johnson just didn’t give the vaccination programme and the younger people enough time, and then he turned round and sabotaged his whole policy by removing the last restrictions on their liberty, the last incentive for them to get jabbed. It would have been much better if he had behaved like a schoolteacher keeping a class behind until they all admitted and apologised for some prank or other, at which point, and not before, they would all be set free. Instead, before too long, we will all find ourselves being “kept in” again.

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