A new strain of the COVID-19 virus is on the loose in the United Kingdom. With just days to go before Christmas, the government has determined that even harsher lockdowns may be the answer to its troublesome problem. But why is the U.K., a stable environment with health care for all, at the epicenter of this new outbreak?
Meet the New Virus, Same as the Old Virus
This latest variation apparently is similar to the old strain, but it is more virulent in lab trials. Scientists suggest that this mutated form is quickly replacing the original. One would think that with a virus that is different in its pathology, a new way of managing its impacts would be sought. This appears not to be the case.
Professor Nick Loman, from the COVID-19 Genomics U.K. Consortium, said, “Laboratory experiments are required, but do you want to wait weeks or months [to see the results and take action to limit the spread]? Probably not in these circumstances.” And it is this statement that perhaps displays the issue better than any other.
Rather than “following the science,” it appears the British government under Prime Minister Boris Johnson has been chased by fear. The ministers responsible have listened to a select few scientists and abdicated responsibility for the decision-making process. The government is committed to its course and will not back down until its target is achieved.
As the saying goes, “Success has many fathers while failure is an orphan.” If the Pfizer vaccine – currently being rolled-out across the country – works to limit both the old and new forms, the government will claim all the credit for steering a harsh course. If it does not, it will be the scientists who are blamed as the government repeats its science-following mantra ad infinitum.
A number of nations have already cut off flights and travel from the U.K. Makes sense, right? No British are allowed to travel to some countries, bringing their new plague with them. But what is the governmental response? Is it to close borders and weather the storm? Certainly not.
Flights are still arriving from COVID hotspots carrying tourists and businessfolk who will stay, have their meetings, see some sights, pick up a corona-souvenir, and go home, taking this new strain with them. But as long as it is not the British people passing it along, apparently it doesn’t matter.
Scores (even hundreds) of illegal migrants enter the U.K. every day. Instead of a comfortable but efficient quarantine before being sent on their way, they are checked into four-star hotels and allowed to mingle with the population. Perhaps such hospitality increases virus spread or even introduces new elements that could mutate it further.
Government decisions are often destined to remain at full speed until the inevitable calamity of public backlash. Normalcy has been promised after widespread vaccinations, but this new strain could be a tipping point. Scientists have yet to declare whether the current vaccine will be in any way effective against the corona-cousin, meaning the billions spent, the lockdowns, the damage to the economy – all in the name of holding on until a COVID vaccine – may have been a waste of time.
Will this stop the roll-out process?
Like a rock climber scaling a dangerous height, it is too late for the government to climb down. The only politically safe way out of this situation is to push ahead. But when a mountaineer makes a misstep and tumbles to his death, he rarely takes the whole rock face with him.
Read more from Mark Angelides.