Having written here about how badly Boris dealt with the pandemic initially compared with his current success with the vaccination roll-out (unlike the EU), I risk being awarded an OBE. That’s not an Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (so stop that curtsying at the back!), but the dubious honour of being ‘overtaken by events.’ Writing about Covid-19 carries that risk in spades.
You’ll recall the EU’s much-criticised row with both the UK and AstraZeneca over vaccine shortages. In particular, it was condemned over its threat to put checks on the Northern Ireland border to prevent vaccines produced in the EU from reaching the UK.
This could have been an opportunity to strengthen the EU and help to break down the nationalism that constantly plagues its decision-making process. Instead, it reinforced all these tendencies, hugely embarrassed the EU internationally and robbed it of sorely-needed credibility for its own citizens.
But the UK is lucky to have AstraZeneca at all. It was nearly sold off with the enthusiastic backing of Conservative ministers in the UK Government some years ago to: Pfizer! And AstraZeneca itself is the result of the merger between Sweden’s Astra and the UK’s Zeneca – the latter the offspring of the ICI group.
Finally, let’s not forget that we need to get through this virus crisis together. When people can move freely within their countries and across borders because it’s safe and without lockdowns, then that’s what we should all be aiming for.
The UK needed to move particularly fast because of its high death rate and massive economic contraction (both among the worst in Europe). Whether it will have done well in managing this crisis say a year from now is unknowable. My hunch is the EU will still have done quite well on a global scale.
For now, we need to be patient and not confuse people with blame games and a one-sided focus on the day-by-day speed of vaccinations. Herd immunity has to stretch across borders or else it is unachievable.
Nora Johnson’s psychological crime thrillers ‘No Safe Place’, ‘Betrayal’, ‘The Girl in the Woods’, ‘The Girl in the Red Dress’, ‘No Way Back’, ‘Landscape of Lies’, ‘Retribution’, ‘Soul Stealer’, ‘The De Clerambault Code’ (www.nora-johnson.net) available online as eBook (€0.99; £0.99), Apple Books, paperback and audiobook. All profits to Costa del Sol Cudeca cancer charity.
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