POSTED: October 19, 2020
I have taken the following from this morning’s Monocle Minute, which you can subscribe to here. Andrew Tuck wrote it.
In the coming months we get a vaccine or vaccines that halt the pandemic. Even the most ambitious voices suggest that, presuming they work, they will not be widely available until spring or summer 2021 and that even in wealthy countries a limited rollout could take months. But governments are not even planning for this to occur. In the UK the head of the vaccine task force has made it clear that vaccinating everyone “is not going to happen”. If successful, says Kate Bingham, it will be “an adult-only vaccine for people over 50, focusing on health workers and care-home workers and the vulnerable”. One other wrinkle? Ask your friends if they would have the vaccine: it’s staggering how opposed people are to a fast-tracked drug. Not conspiracy theorists, just sane people who would refuse the offer and take their chances.
The virus will burn out. Maybe. The 1918 flu was at its most brutal over three waves and two years. But the virus did not vanish for decades. And few believe that coronavirus will mutate and weaken any time soon. Live in New Zealand? Waiting for Covid to disappear before you come back into the world? Let’s be clear, there’s no need to renew your passport.
Mask wearing, track-and-trace measures, quarantines and mitigating drugs will beat the virus and let us move on. Again unlikely in the short-term as track-and-trace measures are routinely ignored and poorly run in many nations. In an interview in The Sunday Times, Devi Sridhar, one of the UK’s foremost experts on global health, was asked when the pandemic would ease with all of the above to hand: “I’m looking ahead to 2024, maybe 2023 … we’re in this for the long haul.” Lockdowns and masks do offer some control of the virus and so we could face years of them being the go-to solutions – and only giving temporary respites.