Pulling Together

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Vaccination — why the long haul?

The Government is apparently very pleased with the progress of its vaccination programme. Today mass vaccination centres are said to be opening to speed the process further. However, when people then ask when we can do away with all the precautions, the advice remains that that is a long way off because it’s not yet known whether the vaccine will reduce transmission or just prevent most serious illness.

But isn’t that missing the point? The purpose of taking all these draconian steps to disrupt people’s lives is to prevent serious illness and hospitals being overwhelmed by a need for Intensive Care beyond their capacity. Once the most vulnerable people have mostly been vaccinated, and if the amount of serious illness is thereby reeduced to a minimal level, and hospitals can function normally without fear, why would we need to continue disrupting society and curtailing freedom?

The purpose of the restrictions is to protect the NHS. Already, that seems a perverse aim if one accepts that the purpose of the NHS is to treat the sick. The S stands for Service, and surely the NHS is there for the community, for us, not the other way round. Shutting down normal healthy lives to protect the NHS is forgetting that the purpose of the NHS is to enable people to live normal healthy lives who might otherwise be prevented by illness. It’s a bit like seeing suicide as an answer to fear of death. It seems rather pointless and self-defeating.

However, even if one accepts the logic of shutting down society to save the NHS, once the risk to the especially vulnerable and the NHS is removed, where is the harm? Well, the virus might continue to circulate, say the experts. Indeed it might, but if it no longer causes serious illness and the risk of death, and the need for specialist care, who cares? Who cares if a virus circulates causing minimal harm? What does it matter? We don't need to be against the virus per se. The only objection to letting the virus circulate is the harm it can cause. If it can no longer cause harm, why should we stop it circulating? Surely, we will have achieved our aim. The virus would eventually stop most of its circulation of its own accord, as it ran out of new people to infect. That is what happens with most viruses.

So why is this virus different? It is as if the world has lost sight of its purpose here. We do not need to vaccinate enough people to achieve the so-called herd immunity before relaxing the restriction. We just need to vaccinate those most likely to suffer serious consequences. After that the virus can do little lasting damage, so why bother?

Or is there something we’ve not been told, some risk beyond the visible that will arise if the lockdown is eased. Who can say, but it does seem something doesn’t quite add up.

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