Covid-19 – Here we go again?

Erica and I have had both our jabs but we continue to be Covid aware. When the booster vaccine becomes availabale we will go and get it!

As I write this it is clear that rising Covid-19 infections are being to cause serious concern. Albeit from very low levels, the numbers are once again beginning to rise exponentially in some areas. Fortunately, that area does not include Liverpool where the numbers remain less than 10/100k population/week. It does include neighbouring Sefton where they had high levels of the Kent variant and are now experiencing relatively high levels of the Indian variant.

It is abundantly clear that once again the Government failed to act in a timely and decisive way. They acknowledged the transmissibility of the Indian variant too late; decided to close down travel to India too slowly and let too many people in with little or no supervision between the date of decision and the date of effective border closure. This has meant a mini pandemic which could have been averted.

This surge will not have the same effect as previous ones because of the success of the vaccination. Huge numbers of adults have now received both jabs which means that they are 86% less likely to catch the virus. The vaccine also does two other things. It affects the transmissibility of the illness and it affects the severity of the effects. Transmissibility between potential people is reduced and you are less likely to be severely affected if you catch it.

This, of course means that hospital occupancy is much reduced as more people can be treated either at home or in wards needing less care that in the intensive care units. It also means less deaths.

So far so good.  Too me, though, it leaves three questions:

  1. Why has the Government been slow once again in recognising the threat of the Indian variant? We know from Dominic Cummings that they dillied and dallied in March 2020. They ignored scientific evidence. They failed to take action after the pandemic testing exercise in 2017 and they lied on numerous occasions.

So why was there yet another delay? Speculation is that it was because Johnson wanted to travel in glory to India to announce yet another dud trade deal. Perhaps we will never know but we do know that there a delay in taking the action that was needed. We do know that people will have been made ill and some will die as a result.

  • What does this mean for the virtual ending of anti-infection measures such as masks and social distancing which is scheduled to take place on 21st June. I think that we should be very careful of removing further measures too soon. There could well be problems in increased transmissions and infections because of this glorious Bank Holiday weekend. If the figures continue to rise at the current rate of increase, I suspect that the Government should postpone further opening up.
  • What does this mean for our effort to assist the whole world get vaccinated to control infections? There are those that will say that we should look after our own first. That’s understandable but does raise the question how do we do that? The longer that the virus remains rampant in poorer countries the more variants will arise. The more variants that arise the more chances that existing vaccines will not be able to cope with them.

We cannot keep infections out entirely by closing borders. People and goods move around too much for that. The front line of India, South Africa or Brazil is our front line as well.

So, what does this all mean for each of us? We must all make our own decisions about this. I will continue to wear a mask on public transport and in shops. Erica and I have been for a drink outside a pub but have yet to eat inside a pub. We continue to get a takeaway rather than go to a restaurant. We continue to restrict access to our home. We will not be jetting off somewhere this year but will wait until next year unless there are strong family reasons which mean that such travel becomes an essential rather than a desirable.

We’ve both had both jabs but feel it’s better to be safe than sorry. When the booster jab becomes available and we get called we will go to get even though we both had side effects to the jabs that we have had.

This is not just about self-preservation its about community care. Keeping ourselves safe helps keep safe our family and our community.

I am not attempting to enforce our view on anyone but just hope to remind everyone that this is not all over and may never be. Taking sensible actions is not an attack on my civil liberties or anyone else’s’. It a set of common-sense precautions to limit the chances of us and anyone else falling unnecessarily ill and clogging up the NHS which now needs to attend to a huge backlog of operations and procedures.

About richardkemp

Leader of the Liberal Democrats in Liverpool. Deputy Chair and Lib Dem Spokesperson on the LGA Community Wellbeing Board. Married to the lovely Cllr Erica Kemp CBE with three children and four grandchildren.
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