Britain is emerging from the hassle of a pandemic. Will Boris Johnson be forgiven for his violent vaccination past sins?
At a recent press conference of British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, it was announced that 31.6 million people (60 percent of the adult population) have already received the first dose of the vaccine, and 5.4 million – the second. The British deliberately focused on the widest possible vaccination with the first dose at the expense of repeated injections.
Vaccination passports and covid status are discussed, as well as a system of “traffic lights” for travel abroad, which will classify visitors from different countries by vaccination level and infection rate. Travelers returning from Green List countries are expected to not need isolation upon return to England.
Only Israel and a few smaller countries are ahead of the UK in terms of the number of vaccinated per capita. This is all the more impressive against the backdrop of the sad performance of continental Europe, which is experiencing a third wave and closes again on lockdown.
England, on the contrary, is preparing to move on to the next stage of easing restrictions (here the third lockdown has been in effect since the beginning of January; Scotland, Northern Ireland, Wales have their own quarantine lifting schedule, however, very close to English). Shops, hairdressers, libraries, gyms, zoos, etc. will be open from April 12th. Children will be able to attend any indoor activity. Restaurants and pubs will begin serving customers outdoors, although they will only have to eat and drink while sitting. The number of guests at weddings will grow to 15 people, and two visitors per inhabitant will be allowed in nursing homes.
The requirement to work from home, if possible, remains in force, domestic travel is minimized, and international travel is prohibited. Outdoor gatherings will still be limited to six people or two households.
Thanks to the undoubted successes, the Conservatives confidently outperform the Laborites in the polls (42 versus 32 percent of those willing to vote, respectively, in the general elections), and Johnson’s personal rating on the main indicators (trust, competence, decisiveness, etc.) has good dynamics. But quite recently, all literally actions and responses of the government to overcome the pandemic were criticized as decisively failures.
A year ago, Johnson clearly missed the impending crisis, did not understand the meaning of the impending very serious danger. He demonstratively shook hands with “everyone” in the hospital, where there were patients with covid. He laughed at the government’s efforts to provide ventilators, calling them “Operation Last Breath.” In order to “release” the hospitals, the elderly were discharged en masse, without testing, to nursing homes, and so the disease was brought there. Scientists and experts believe that the prime minister was three times late with the announcement of lockdowns, and estimate the cost of the delays at several tens of thousands of victims. Covid casualties exceed those of the British civilian population in World War II. In the networks and in the press, mentions of Johnson as the largest “serial killer” in the history of the kingdom flashed.
Yet the latest political success outweighs past failures. “The decisions made by the Johnson government in the darkest moments of the pandemic in spring 2020 to support vaccination projects — investing early and substantial funds — now look like a masterpiece,” writes the global business press leader The Financial Times. “It was a turning point for Johnson and the country.”
Apparently, thanks to the chief scientific adviser to the government (Sir Patrick Wallance), the government put its stake on the developments of Oxford University in time. University specialists assured that they would produce the vaccine within a year, and received support and funding.
A complex and troubling topic in the national vaccination campaign is the resistance to the campaign among minority groups. Among those over seventy, in England, only 4% of white people have not been vaccinated, according to the Oxford University analytical platform OpenSAFELY, cited by the politically right-wing magazine Spectator. But among those who are called “black Africans” this share is almost ten times higher – 37 percent. In this group, about 11 percent of Indian Britons, 19 percent of Bangladeshis, 22 percent of Chinese British, and 26 percent of Black Caribbean residents are unvaccinated. While it is easy to overlook the success of vaccinations, Spectator notes, it will do little good to those who did not participate. Both the right and the left press ask themselves the question: how to deal with anti-axers? According to the opposition left-wing Guardian, politicians should focus on creating “botanical immunity” – investing in education so that people can recognize fake news, conspiracy theories, misinformation of different kinds and forms.
After the implementation of the national vaccination program, the British are ready to donate their surplus vaccine to developing countries: 54 percent of residents are “ardent” for it, 30 percent – “rather for”. (By the way, it turned out that women and people over 30 are more generous, and the right-wing conservatives are almost twice as “greedy” as the British Labor and Liberal Democrats.)
Britain seems to be starting to emerge from the haze of the pandemic. Time will tell whether the grave mistakes of Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his government will be forgotten and whether their dire consequences will be forgiven.
A source: New Newspaper