So keen to see a way for life to return to the kind of normality that will not inconvenience Themselves Personally Now, the assembled hacks and pundits have failed to stop and think about the underlying reality: the June 21st date is the very earliest point where all restrictions could be lifted, and the virus could all too easily return to wreak further deadly havoc. After all, it has, whisper it quietly, not actually gone away, and nor will it.
So while the odious flannelled fool Master Harry Cole, still pretending to be a real journalist as political editor of the Murdoch Sun, and his opposite number Jason Groves at the Daily Mail, moan about how many months any ending of restrictions is going to take, Sam Coates at Sky News has noticed that SAGE’s latest advice is not quite so upbeat.
Dated February 7th, the opening paragraph shows what Cole, Groves and their pals in the press cohort aren’t telling their readers. And it makes for grim reading. “Four scenarios have been modelled that differ in the speed of easing restrictions from current levels to minimal measures. All four scenarios modelled lead to a substantial resurgence in hospital admissions and deaths”. That’s in addition to the 130,000 or so deaths we already have.
There is more. “The scale and timing of these resurgences are critically dependent on very uncertain modelled assumptions, including real world vaccine effectiveness against severe disease and infection … Given this uncertainty, it would be inadvisable to tie changes in policy to dates instead of data”. Easing could happen later. A lot later.
It gets worse. “Unless vaccine efficacy is significantly better than assumed here, it is highly likely that hospital occupancy would be higher than that seen in January 2021, if all restrictions are lifted by the start of May”. Then a reminder: “As restrictions are relaxed virus transmission will increase. The more slowly restrictions are relaxed, the greater the number of hospitalisations and deaths prevented by vaccination and hence it would be less likely that restrictions would need to be reimposed later to avoid hospitals being put under extreme pressure”. The watchword has to be Caution.
Hence “It would take several weeks after lifting one set of restrictions to determine whether it is safe to take the next step”, and another reminder - “Maintaining baseline measures to reduce transmission once restrictions are lifted is almost certain to save many lives and minimise the threat to hospital capacity”. Face coverings. Distancing. Hand washing.
It is possible that vaccination will reduce transmission, as well as preventing anything more than mild symptoms in the vast majority of the population. So in that case, SAGE is being unduly cautious. But being incautious has not served alleged Prime Minister Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson and his pals so well up until now. So caution it is going to be.
That means the press needs to get real about timescales, and stop trying to push the Government into moves which could see tens of thousands more needless deaths. Once again, we see the exercise of power without responsibility. And that’s not good enough.
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