Political Gameplay is a key hindrance as we try to protect the public
Unfortunately, the UK has officially surpassed 50,000 COVID-19 related deaths. Many labour frontbenchers and SAGE (Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies) have demanded the Conservative government to implement an earlier circuit-breaker lockdown.
Even warnings from Johnson’s very own Medical Chief Advisor criticised the ineffectiveness of the 3-teir regional lockdown system for “not going far enough”. Thereby, has the government’s naivete to not to follow the scientific advice be a decisive factor for the death toll we see today?
It is hard to say whether an earlier lockdown would have prevented the UK from ever surpassing 50,000 deaths, as it perhaps would have just only delayed the death toll. Labour leader, Kier Starmer, described Johnson’s leadership as a “catastrophic failure”, insinuating that the government had favoured the economy over people’s lives. Johnson replied by calling Starmer an “opportunist”, using the rising death toll as a tactic to gain political support from the public.
Either way, the back and forth from both opposing parties may have not helped the situation. The rising deaths were too significant, to the extent that there was “no alternative”. Boris Johnson, thereby, introduced a four-week national lockdown to delay the rate of infection, despite not accepting the flaws of the 3-teir regional system. Johnson did, on the other hand, promise that the second national lockdown will only last till the 2nd of December, but from previous experience, this promise seems ever-more unlikely.
Controversially, on a different topic, many Conservatives voted against ‘free school meals’ to be extended over the half-term break. The decision created an up-roar within the public and Manchester United’s Marcus Rashford, whose campaign initially caused the government to reverse their decision last summer. With the restrictions creating huge job cuts and families losing out financially, free school meals were considered the only solace for some, and to be taken away would only create more worries for those who were dependent on it.
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Has the government unintentionally put the public’s wellbeing at risk due to political stubbornness?
BY NIGEL TATE: POLITICAL EDITOR
The government has defended its position by claiming that a further £63million in grants would be handed to local councils to help struggling families. However, this alternative strategy failed to persuade the public as many believed that these grants were not enough, causing schools and notable supermarket chains (like Morrison’s) to join efforts in providing further meals. So we wonder, should the government even debate on issues that have a direct influence on the public’s wellbeing?
Hopefully, the four-week lockdown will not only stall the death rate but create the opportunity for the government and health officials to innovate a more reliable and effective track and trace system. The government since the start of the national lockdown have trialled a mass testing to take place in Liverpool (England’s worst affected city).
Everyone living in Liverpool will have access to a COVID-19 test, regardless if you possess symptoms or not. The new COVID-19 taskforce will be conducted by health workers and 2,000 army personnel. If the operation turns out to be a major success, the government has a very ambitious goal of replicating this throughout England, targeting the most infected areas first.
An efficient track and trace system would be the starting point to reducing the overall risk to society. Recently, BioNTech (German biotechnology firm) and Pfizer have created a vaccine which is at stage 3 (further than any other developing vaccine) to help combat COVID-19.
However, before we all celebrate, this so-called ‘miracle’ vaccine still has some way to go before it could be distributed to the public, and the time for it to be mass delivered will take several months in itself. Johnson emphasises “we are not out of the woods” in response to the vaccine breakthrough . This year has been extremely difficult, we are all eager to return back to normality, but the recent news does shed some light for a more optimistic future.
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