Race against time between vaccinations and virus variant
- Credit: PA
The Government’s decision to postpone full unlocking until July was the right one.
Infections are increasing exponentially and the number of people in hospital with Covid is increasing every day.
Further unlocking will lead to more infections and hospitalisations. A month’s worth more of vaccinations and schools breaking up may help to cancel this out.
This delay has highlighted that just having a successful vaccine roll-out is not enough. There are multiple layers of protection that should have stopped the Delta, or Indian, variant taking hold in Britain. None of them worked.
The first chance to stop the variant was missed when India wasn’t put on the red list early enough. Boris Johnson still hasn’t come up with a convincing explanation of why India’s neighbours, Pakistan and Bangladesh, were put on the red list a full fortnight before India. 20,000 people flew in from India during that time.
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Our border and quarantine controls are still full of holes and far too reliant on individuals doing the right thing. It only takes one person not to, for the system to break down.
And the Government’s Test and Trace system is still a hugely expensive flop. £39 billion and totally incapable of snuffing out local outbreaks like it is supposed to.
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We are now in a race against time between the vaccination programme and the Delta variant. If the Government had learned from its failures in the first two Covid waves, the spread of the new variant could have been slowed while the vaccine did its work.
The Government’s mistakes that led to the Delta variant being unleashed on Britain can’t be undone. What can be undone is the huge mistake they are now making about withdrawing support for struggling businesses.
At the beginning of July furloughing and business rate supports starts to be cut. This was based on Covid restrictions ending on June 21.
For an additional month, some businesses will still not be allowed to open. Many others won’t be able to operate profitably because of capacity restrictions. But the Government is now planning to increase their costs.
Boris Johnson needs to urgently announce that support for businesses will continue at the current level for as long as restrictions are in place.