THROUGHOUT the month of March – the unhappy second anniversary of the first UK lockdown – not a single high-ranking public health official from within the British Government offered any assurance at all that pandemic interventions such as lockdowns should be ruled out for future use.
There had been numerous conferences and summits during which to do so, the most obvious of which being the global Pandemic Preparedness Summit in London. Yet nary a squeak of contrition has been heard: the results of the official Covid Inquiry, therefore, pre-ordained it seems.
During a March 31 interview given to Freddie Sayers at Unherd, it wasHealth Secretary Sajid Javid’s turn to avoid the pandemic sins of the past, his choice of a sceptical media outfit doubtless a symbolic ploy to amplify how wonderfully free and open a society the UK is.
Asked if he believed that lockdowns should never again be implemented, Javid remained metronomic in response: ‘If any government is going to impose restrictions, take away freedoms from people, there needs to be a very, very, very high bar to that. Certainly that’s my view, it’s always been my view.’
This was not the case in November 2021, once Omicron had passed straight through the UK’s great vaccine wall of defence. Despite falling hospital admissions and deaths at the time, and despite only five confirmed cases of the variant having been identified in England, Head Vaccine-Mason Javid nevertheless announced that more countries had immediately been added to the Red List, close contacts of anyone who tested positive with a suspected case of Omicron had once again to self-isolate for ten days (regardless of vaccination status, children included), and face masks would again be compulsory, schools included. Down moved the bar.
Although not a lockdown-level response, for the healthy or merely sniffly people obliged to spend ten days plus in needless self-isolation – many more than once – this amounted to a circuit-breaker lockdown of sorts, notwithstanding the ruinous consequences of the policy on care home residents, again.
Yet according to the Health Secretary’s November 29 statement to Parliament, this was an entirely proportionate response, as Omicron ‘may impact the effectiveness of one of our major treatments for Covid-19, Ronapreve . . . and there’s a reasonable chance that our current vaccines may be impacted.’
Protect the reputation of an antiviral treatment most people have never heard of, protect the reputation of the vaccines which don’t work, and to hell with the crippling consequences for society.
One week later Javid told the Commons: ‘I know these measures will bring disruption, and that they will impact people’s plans to spend time with their loved ones over the festive period. But we’re taking early action now so we don’t have to take tougher action later on, and so we can take every opportunity to prevent more cases from arriving in our country.’
Odd, because he told Freddie Sayers that such a micro-managerial approach to virus elimination is ‘doomed to fail’, and that ‘you can’t control nature’.
On December 8, Javid said (with a ‘heavy heart’): ‘We don’t yet have comprehensive data on the severity of [Omicron], but rising rates of hospitalisation in South Africa show that it certainly has the potential to cause harm.’
Yet despite both the South African medical/scientific community and the World Health Organisation having ostensibly designated Omicron an extremely mild variant – the WHO even going so far as to call on countries to drop the hysteria around it (they’ve certainly changed their tune of late) – Javid nevertheless ploughed forward with Plan B measures such as the rebooting of the work-from-home ‘guidance’, and mandatory certification for large events; the threat of more severe Plan C measures left hanging, being called for in fact, by the UKHSA.
‘It’s better to stay a step ahead of the virus rather than reacting to what it brings,’ he said in defence of his decisions, as Professor Ferguson fired up his pandemic Nintendo Game Boy, fear and uncertainty swept through Europe’s freest country with renewed potency, work parties were cancelled, chaos erupted in schools, the NHS shut up shop again to focus on the booster campaign, and care home visits were all but banned again. Down moved the bar.
Electing to maintain this state of terror and alarmism even post-Freedom Day – a mere halcyon memory by then – the Health Secretary refused to rule out a Christmas or New Year circuit-breaker-lockdown, telling Andrew Marr: ‘There are no guarantees in this pandemic. At this point, we just have to keep everything under review.’ Down moved the bar.
Javid told Sayers: ‘People that come in to see me from abroad, whether they’re business people, they’re ministers – they look at how open we are and say, wow, this is like the old times!’
If I could ask the Health Secretary one question, it would be this: If England’s new, purportedly free-and-easy era of personal responsibility is indeed akin to the times of old, why is the triple-jabbed mother of my partner – currently on a non-critical ward in a hospital governed by Hampshire NHS Trust; who suffers from advanced Alzheimer’s; whose physical and mental condition has needlessly degraded tenfold over the last two months as she will speak, laugh, eat well, or walk only if encouraged by her triple-jabbed husband/carer – still prevented from seeing said husband? The barrier being that the Trust – the day after the DHSC updated their guidance on testing to say: ‘Most visitors to adult social care settings, and visitors to the NHS, prisons or places of detention will no longer be required to take a test’ no less – have now tightened what were already Lockdown One-esque visitation policies, by imposing a refreshed ban on virtually all visitors. That one of the exceptions to this rule is if the patient in question suffers from dementia is a disgraceful lie. That unvaccinated healthcare workers may provide intimate care for her regardless is ludicrous.
Who are these ‘most visitors’ of which your policy speaks?
The Health Secretary is not interested in raising the bar at all – he removed it altogether when he took up office in June 2021, before then chopping a few metres of height off its stanchions, and has been clobbering the nation over the head with it ever since.
In conclusion, Sayers said that: ‘I think we can all agree it’s a great thing that he came in to talk to us, we want more of that. And there is some hope at least, that lessons have been learned.’
I disagree entirely. The Health Secretary not only made light of the collateral damage of two tyrannical years of incessant, cruel (and ongoing) non-pharmaceutical interventions, but also made no promise at all that we shouldn’t anticipate more of the same in the face of the next Disease X, except that this time he had the balls to say it to the face of a sceptic of note.
That’s not at all something we want more of.