Last week in the House of Commons, the Prime Minister announced a staggered end to all Covid restrictions in England. Starting with dropping the legal requirement to self-isolate if you test positive through to the end of free testing from 1st April.
Watched in horror
I and millions of other vulnerable people watched in horror as the MPs on the government benches welcomed Johnson’s announcement, hailing their ‘freedom’. But as Tory MPs cheered, millions of vulnerable families saw their freedom slip away entirely, saw their protections eroded to nothing. All so that healthy people can go about their business completely unfettered, with not a care about infecting anyone else.
Tory MP for Ashfield, Lee Anderson said, “we should never return to a full lockdown and any isolation should be targeted. It should be the clinically vulnerable, the elderly and the Labour front bench.” The Tory benches erupted with laughter at his wit.
Lee Anderson’s wife has had a lung transplant, so he will have experienced vulnerability within his own family. He should have known better than to make such an uncaring (and frankly idiotic) comment just to get a laugh from his right-honourable friends.
Our lives mean less
To vulnerable families, Tory laughter sends a clear signal that our lives, already much more difficult than theirs, somehow mean less, matter less. They were laughing at the expense of everyone who now is steeped in worry about how on earth we are going to keep our loved ones safe.
I don’t know why I was shocked. They have shown the same disrespect to everyone who followed the rules while they partied, everyone who struggled alone while they filled suitcases full of booze, everyone who had to leave their relatives to die alone in hospital while they kicked back to karaoke.
They continue to show us who they are. The contempt in which they hold the ordinary people of this country – who are facing massive energy bills, rising prices, a big hike in national insurance and now £5.99 for a single LFT – becomes ever clearer.
No magic bullet
Johnson claims he can remove all Covid protections because of the success of the NHS vaccine program in the UK and the availability of anti-viral medicines. But neither the vaccines nor the antivirals are magic bullets. Currently, anti-virals are only available to the most vulnerable people and they are only effective if you get them early enough when infected.
The BMA is scathing:
Living with Covid-19 must not mean ignoring the virus all together – which in many respects the Government’s plan in England seems to do.
Tory cheers are the equivalent of able-bodied people sitting on the tube, laughing at the little old lady in front of them struggling to stay upright in a moving train. Not only are they letting us struggle, they are happy to let us struggle so long as they don’t have to wear a pesky mask or suffer the tiniest inconvenience.
These people would really struggle if they had to cope with the things we have to deal with every single day. Everyday life is already so much harder if you or a loved one has a medical condition. Now, we will have to navigate an outside world of unmasked, untested, infected and seemingly uncaring people. It really is like being a survivor in the Walking Dead but you have no idea who the zombies are. Even the zombies have no clue that they are zombies because no-one will be testing anymore.
Do those laughing Tory MPs truly believe that Covid won’t get them, since the rules just don’t apply to them? Perhaps they do. But their ‘freedom’ makes it far more likely they or someone they love will end up with long Covid and become vulnerable or disabled as a result.
Another fortune for Randox?
We’ll see how much the LFTs will cost, come April.
Randox (yes, that’s right. Owen Paterson’s Randox) advertised travel tests at £1, £17 and £29 but somehow, those were always sold out while the £99 tests were readily available. If you had a day 2 and day 8 deadline to meet, you were left with little choice but to part with big wads of cash. Randox must have made an absolute fortune. I wonder where the company got the tests from and how much they paid for each one. Let’s hope the Covid inquiry asks these questions – and gets the answers.
The government website for ordering lateral flow tests has changed (at the time of writing). Now, you are only allowed to order one pack of seven tests every three days instead of every day. Home delivery is unavailable – demand is high following Johnson’s announcement. Who’d have guessed?
See no evil
One thing is undeniable: fewer tests taken will lead to fewer cases being found. It’s a neat strategy for anyone who might want to show that the pandemic is ending, regardless of the true number of infections. That does seem to be a favourite trick of this Prime Minister. If you don’t look for evidence, you don’t have to act on it.
But we can’t control what we don’t properly monitor.
Why can’t we do this safely? Is it really worth pretending that it’s all over? It would be simple to keep some sensible protections like paid mandatory isolation, free testing and mask wearing indoors. This would protect everyone and boost the economy. Most importantly, it would ensure that infections decrease and stay low through the summer and that we are best placed to cope with whatever next winter brings.