NOW that Boris Johnson has again declared England to be living with Covid rather than pursuing its elimination, one would expect the public health alarmism rife among his government’s various departments to have been dialled down.
Unfortunately, it appears the language adopted in most recent Whitehall publications on the matter reads less as if we are emerging from an outbreak and more as if one had only just begun.
Immediately after the Prime Minister delivered his vacuous February 21 statement to the Commons, the UK Health Security Agency was busy undermining this so-called pivot to personal responsibility by publishing ‘updated’ guidance.
This simply parrots what the agency has been demanding of the public for almost two years, and one can guarantee it is now being drip-fed into the nation’s businesses, corporations and institutions, and by extension the public mindset.
Round and round we go, even as we attempt to heal injuries sustained from the State’s previous violent turns of the behavioural-control merry-go-round.
According to the UKHSA, encouraging people to undertake their own health-based risk assessments rather than have them obey the mandates of the State, means: ‘asking the public to practise specific safe and responsible behaviours as the primary means of stopping the spread of the virus’ (emphasis mine).
Act as you wish, then, but only if the course of action you desire to adopt appears on our list of specific approved social behaviours.
It’s July 19 rebranded.
UKHSA chief executive Dr Jenny Harries is still pushing for people to wear masks in crowded and enclosed spaces despite no legal requirement to do so. A recent blog post from her agency even went so far as to recommend that DIY face coverings be made with two or more layers of fabric – rash advice more suited to the panicky outset of a public health emergency rather than its professed conclusion, wouldn’t you agree?
Similarly, and also despite no legal requirement to do so, Harries says ‘you should still stay at home and continue to keep away from others’ if you test positive, whilst strategically failing to mention the subject of symptoms – the implication being that in her eyes, in the new era of living alongside the virus, otherwise healthy people need nevertheless continue to
Indeed, that word ‘should’ (and again irrespective of an individual’s symptoms) is likewise liberally strewn about the UKHSA’s updated overall guidance on what to do if you test positive for Covid-19.
And with the imminent, albeit doubtless temporary, death of free mass-testing, these positive yet otherwise healthy people who continue to be advised to stay at home – either unfairly by their employer, or tragically out of guilt, fear or shame – soon won’t receive State recompense for their confinement (‘self-imposed’ or otherwise) and will even perhaps have to part-fund it by paying for all the tests involved.
Again, we are being told: Behave as you please, but it really should be consistent with the same ineffectual, batty Zero Covid agenda we have been pursuing for the last two years.
Returning to face coverings, a second recent UKHSA blog post reveals further evidence of the Government’s outsourcing of its ruinous pandemic rule book, rather than its incineration. It allows ministers to maintain an underlying state of alarm in spite of having declared the retreat of its causes.
For example, in the event of spurious ongoing ‘Covid-related’ disruption in schools: ‘If staff are concerned, they should contact their local director of public health or health protection team, who will give advice on whether to implement any measures outlined in the (newly updated) Contingency Framework to help manage transmission. These measures could include the reintroduction of asymptomatic testing or face coverings for short periods of time.’
In other words: As you were.
Other baseline alarmist measures, such as continuing to encourage the obsessive and often highly expensive ventilation and purification of enclosed spaces, are outlined in the Living with Covid-19 Plan itself.
Much like other literature already referenced, its theme is less that of embracing freedom and more that of attempting to remain on a ridiculously unnecessary war-like footing.
Troublingly, although the plan identifies and discusses many of the myriad ways in which lockdowns caused immense personal and national suffering, it nevertheless refuses to rule such extreme measures out for future implementation.
Instead, it states with an air of tough love that those measures were ‘necessary because Covid-19 was a new disease to which the population had no immunity’. Tough luck, more like.
This is not the parlance of a government seeking to reinstate the great British freedom of old, but rather a veiled commitment to set in concrete the diluted liberty of the new normal.
What is perhaps most troubling about the Prime Minister’s plan to live alongside the virus is the introduction of a new, and highly convenient, in-house-manufactured threat to national security: waning vaccine immunity.
Johnson’s government wishes to ‘retain the ability to respond if a new variant emerges … or during periods of waning immunity that could again threaten to place the NHS under unsustainable pressure’.
Britain is only too familiar with what it feels like to live in the cold shadow of the first of those threats. But it appears that now – and alongside the oft-prophesied ‘emergence’ of other, significantly more fatal, diseases – we could be conditioned to accept the presence of a third, highly paradoxical menace that shares equal potential to derail our progress: the socially disruptive inefficacy of the very proffered solution to the crisis itself, the vaccines!
So at some future point, should vaccine-induced immunity wane too far (as if negative efficacy were not already too far), we could perhaps expect the creeping, piecemeal re-introduction of the very same hysterical interventions designed originally to stop the spread of the virus during the days a) pre-vaccine and b) post-rollout, whilst we waited in vain for the return of a freedom dependent upon the vaccination of all vulnerable people only.
Such a scenario would then see vaccine inefficacy itself accomplishing the job ordinarily reserved for a new variant – that of (and this is especially ironic in light of our current situation) justifying a further tactical erosion of personal responsibility, and ultimately a further weakening of democracy.
This Gordian knot of public health riddles, hoaxes and rebrandings is not being unravelled, but rather superglued tightly together.
Mr Prime Minister, we’ll believe you when you say we are living with Covid once we are permitted free access to a dying loved one in hospital, or to a lonely elderly relative in a care home.
We’ll believe you once you decree that businesses are prohibited from plastering their premises in Code Red public health signage, and once you outlaw their continued freedom to refuse potentially infected cash, prohibit anything other than table service, and ignore face-covering exemptions; alongside their authority to discriminate on the grounds of one’s vaccination status.
We’ll believe you once your Secretaries of State, Vallance, Whitty, Harries et al, desist in referring to our current location on your Spaghetti Junction of a roadmap still as a pandemic, and once they likewise refrain from speaking of a seemingly scripted future in which we must remain permanently and fearfully braced for lethal outbreaks of disease.
We’ll believe you once you order Dr June Raine, head of the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency, to account for the obscene post-vaccination fatality data accrued by the MHRA, and once you stand in the Commons and tell the nation that children are no longer eligible for Covid-19 vaccination.
We’ll believe you once you assure us that the most crippling of non-pharmaceutical public health interventions shall never again be implemented, instead of simply raising the bar on the threshold of their re-introduction, as you have alluded to in your latest plan. A bar that you, a politician and not an eminent scientist, nevertheless continue to hold in your vice-like grip.
And we’ll believe you if, once having scrapped free mass testing, you then pursue the only sane and rational follow-up to this by prohibiting any entity from continuing to ensure that use of its services remains contingent on a negative test result.
But the Prime Minister daren’t commit to any of this. He could’ve been snapped dancing on the deathbed of a care home resident during lockdown – glass of Barolo in one hand, hunk of brie in the other, the title of a movie Sellotaped to his forehead – and he would still be incapable of apologising for any of the multitudinous transgressions contained within the Goliath dossier of public health crimes that has his name stamped across it.
Johnson has now moved on to much bigger things – the great manly game of war strategy – and to hell with the consequences of the last two years of domestic aggression, the Living with Covid-19 plan naught but yet another of his grotesque and infantilising visions for the future of Britain.