Today is freedom day, and that means many people are now free to catch Covid-19 — a disease which has killed millions and made many others seriously ill for multiple months. Unlike the previous waves, this will primarily fall on the younger, un-vaccinated population which might not result in as many deaths, but should still be taken seriously.
Nobody wants to go through another lockdown. But there are certain actions our government could take to help ease the transition between tight restrictions and total freedom — actions which could prevent more unpopular u-turns, and cushion the impact of another surge.
Stock up on vaccines
Primarily, deaths from Covid are being prevented because of vaccination, but the government currently has not ordered any more vaccines for next year. Considering the unpredictability of the virus, the government should do some serious forecasting and make sure we have a stock of mRNA vaccines prepared.
The government has wobbled on the issue of whether or not to vaccinate children. Following on from the approval of regulator MHRA in allowing for Pfizer’s use in 12-to-15 year olds, they should commit to rolling out the vaccine for under-18s in order to better achieve herd immunity.
Provide proper guidance on disease transmission
Catching this disease may be completely fine for some, but it is unfair and a dereliction of duty to allow your citizens to catch such a disease when the infection is so variable. The Government has made progress on communicating how someone can catch the disease, but it hasn’t been enough. Covid is spread through breathing it in, and hand sanitiser makes next to no difference in preventing the spread. The Government, NHS, PHE and the Health and Safety executive should drop this security theatre, and grow a spine. Tell people how this disease is spread and they can make their own decisions.
Embrace the festival spirit — outside
The last few months have been an excellent example of how the Government can do things which it thinks it can’t. The billions spent on furlough to prevent deaths from this miserable disease are perhaps the best example. So for the most “dangerous” activities, such as clubbing, which will likely be attended by those who haven’t been vaccinated, should be held outside. Everyone loves a music festival, so let’s do them outdoors until we have herd immunity through vaccination.
Bring back Astra Zeneca for the young
Vaccination is a wonderful invention; unfortunately a workable vaccine — AstraZeneca —is not available to under 40s. The unavailability of an unfairly tarnished vaccine is a big contributor to why the UK’s vaccination rate has dropped. If younger people want some of the massive stock which currently exists, then they should be allowed to. If it is the will of the Government to allow people to risk getting covid, then you should be allowed to get a vaccine of your choice.
Consider Vaccine passports
It’s yet more paperwork, but the Government should seriously consider not only vaccine passports in densely populated spaces such as restaurants, but also continue the mask mandate in shops. Another wave is on its way, but there are clear steps that can be taken to mitigate it. As of this afternoon, it seems as if the Government will be introducing them for nightclubs by the end of September.
No single one of these ideas will solve the problem the UK faces in the months ahead. Taken as a group, however, Covid’s transmissibility can be reduced and infections avoided. There is clearly a better way of managing this virus, and with some common sense going forward the currently unvaccinated are less likely to catch Covid.