The state of the UK government's Covid-19 management: plan A or B; The Nadir
Updated: Oct 20, 2021
The UK government seems determined not just to completely relax pandemic restrictions, but to actually end them all, and even undo their own legislative (i)powers that (ostensibly) enforce these. The implementation of this strategy begins just as we enter autumn and head for winter and a potentially catastrophic season of flu and Covid-19 infections.
Catastrophic because despite the calmness of government and the country with regard to the pandemic, infection, hospitalisation and death rates are far higher than this time last year(ii): and we all know what happened last winter - a third wave of Covid-19 infections and a spiralling death rate leading to a prolonged lockdown (iii). So how have we arrived at a situation in which we all seem at least, oblivious to the impending danger?
Previous essays on this blog have discussed how we do in fact need to learn to internalise and rationalise infection and even death from Covid-19 as this virus will be with us perhaps permanently. However, previous essays have also been deeply critical of the State’s suicidal polices: living with Covid-19 is one thing (Boris Johnson announced we all must earlier this year), abandoning all sensible precautions, and failing to report the seriousness of the current situation is reckless beyond belief.
Plan A Plan B
The government’s plan for the winter is simplicity itself. If everything goes well (the 4th wave does not continue relentlessly as it seems it will now), we will continue with the relaxation of restrictions: face-masks will be voluntary, there will be no Covid-19 passports (Plan A). If the spike continues all these things will be reintroduced (Plan B), including working from home (iiii).
This will, arguably, lead inevitably to empty high streets and empty motorways and to panic, fear of infection and death returning. What a shame then the government doesn't want to listen to the behavioural scientists (iiiii) who tell them that the 'living with Covid ' message will be directly responsible for this scenario.
Holidays in the Sun: The End
And what a shame the government doesn't want to listen to science which tells it over and over that we need to maintain restrictions, face-masks, social distancing etc., the ventilation of classrooms, lecture theatres and offices (the Delta variant is highly transmissible through the air), and more than anything, to be cautious. (A)Indeed, while the government behaves as though the pandemic is over, and encourages the public to take responsibility for themselves, scientists at a new institute of virology in Liverpool prepare for the next (pandemic)(iiiiii).
How ironic then that the government has also abandoned the Green and Amber list traffic light system for holiday makers and foreign nationals entering the UK. Only the Red list remains. But why now at the end of the summer when it is all but too late, and domestic infection rates were lower earlier in the summer? Why risk new variants entering the country, undetected because unlike the gold standard PCR test (no longer required under the new government rules), the lateral flow test does not sequence the genetic code on positive tests. Stupidity, ignorance or the belief Covid-19 is now just like seasonal flu as reported in the Guardian link above? Or epistemic arrogance at its worse perhaps; the belief scientists and experts are fallible and government knows better.
The New Low
Is this then really the nadir, the absolute lowest point of the pandemic so far in the UK? Possibly it is, because just as the vaccine program was beginning to win the battle, and despite the Delta variant, the government's actions could spell the end for us. https://youtu.be/ZeMlQEWEg2Q
This essay argues in conclusion that far from maintaining epistemic humility, modesty in what science knows, we should shout from the rooftops its expertise and foresight, which to date has saved us from oblivion.