From the BBC to the Daily Mail, we are being cautioned to expect a delay in so-called “Freedom Day” of June 21st because of a worrying increase in infections due to the Indian (or ‘Delta’) variant of the Covid-19 virus.
But a delay makes no sense.
The BBC report says:
Meanwhile, the latest R number – or reproduction number – in England is estimated to have risen to between 1.2 and 1.4, up from between 1 and 1.2 last week, according to the government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies.
If the R number is above one, then the number of cases keeps increasing.
On Thursday the UK reported more than 7,000 new cases for a second day running. The UK last surpassed that figure in late February.
It is accompanied by this graph:
But, if cases are rising exponentially, then it means our current lockdown-lite isn’t working, so what is the point of maintaining it?
We have two choices that make sense:
(1) We trust the vaccines are working and that any new infections are unlikely to result in serious illness or death. Those in the the most-at risk groups have been vaccinated, and those younger people still waiting are unlikely to suffer serious consequences.
(2) We return to a higher-level lockdown and make everyone stay home, allowing only essential travel.
And there is a choice that makes no sense:
(3) Extending the current lockdown as it is.
Infections are rising, but unless this is leading to levels of hospitalisation that threatens the NHS or is resulting in a marked increase in the number of deaths, this is as meaningless as the number of common cold infections a year, or hayfever. If the threat to the NHS or number of deaths is clear and present then we should of course return to a stricter lockdown, but if not there is no point delaying the return to normality. But we can’t go into a holding pattern that achieves nothing.
As things are, infections will rise according to the alarming graph above, whether we are released on June 21st or not. So our PM has a stark choice: either he returns us to pandemic bondage, or he must let his people go.