Thursday, September 09, 2021

How is the UK doing with that whole "we can live COVID" thing?

We're hoping to visit the UK this Christmas, having not seen our parents for nearly two years, but I really don't feel very confident about the prospect.

I see the happy (usually drunk) faces of Brits inside and outside of ridiculously crowded pubs and at sports events on TV and in website articles, and it just makes me shudder a little. Revellers say things like, "It's done, COVID is over, for sure", and "It's like the common cold now". It all seems pitifully naive to me.

My family reports an almost complete absence of masking in supermarkets and in cinemas, which makes them shudder too. One American niece, currently living in England, says, "it feels kind of nice", but most other Brits I speak to are far from convinced.

Britain, like several other countries, has thrown itself wholeheartedly into the idea that we are never going to actually beat COVID, so we may as well just accept that and get on with our lives. As the common phrase goes, on the lips of Boris Johnson downwards, "we must learn to live with COVID".

So, how is that going? Well, depending on who you listen to, not that well. Daily cases are over 40,000 any rising - this, in a country with roughly double the population of Canada, which has about 3,500 daily cases (and possibly plateauing) - and deaths are well over 100 a day and rising (about 20 a day in Canada). 

It's never good to let a disease run rampant, if only because more cases means more likelihood of new (and worse, more resistant) variants arising. But it's the 100 deaths a day that worries more. Is the UK really OK with that?

The main justification in Britain - which is pretty well vaccinated, about on a par with Canada, if slightly lower - is that hospitalizations are manageable, at around 7,000 or about 7% of capacity. But many health experts there are warning that the winter will be hard, as people retreat indoors more, and many are predicting that the healthcare system will come under severe pressure again. There has also been widespread criticism of the decision not to vaccinate children 12-15 years olds. In much the same way, health officials in the US are also warning that things are from under control.

I guess we'll still try to go back at Christmas, unless things deteriorate catastrophically. But I can't pretend that I'm happy with it.


British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced how he is going to manage the COVID-19 pandemic during the coming winter months

And the plan is ... no lockdowns, no vaccine passports, no mask mandates, and complete reliance on an OK vaccination rollout that has been shown to be some help but totally insufficient in averting a fourth wave of the virus. And this is supposed to make me feel good?

No comments: