MAIL ON SUNDAY COMMENT: Why all this palaver over a sensible idea to save more lives?
This newspaper has been highly critical of much of the Government’s handling of the Covid pandemic.
We have attacked its failure to provide adequate personal protection equipment at the start of the outbreak. We strongly criticised its inability to protect lives in care homes.
We were among the first to point out that lockdowns can do more harm than good. And we have repeatedly called for Prime Minister Boris Johnson to listen to a wider selection of expert voices than those on the official Sage committee.
But we have never been negative for the sake of it. Our interventions have been intended to ensure that the effort to preserve public health was as successful as possible. And this is very much reflected in our view of the vaccine.
If this immunisation can be given as soon as possible to the most vulnerable in our society, then the whole apparatus of lockdown, curfew and closure can be dismantled and we can seize back our normal lives. (File image)
In the midst of a desert of disappointment and restriction, this has been one piece of undiluted good news – a huge scientific triumph, and much of it a British one.
If this immunisation can be given as soon as possible to the most vulnerable in our society, then the whole apparatus of lockdown, curfew and closure can be dismantled and we can seize back our normal lives.
Among other things, we can take full advantage of the freedom to trade with the world, restored to us by Brexit.
It is a great pity that the Covid crisis has overshadowed this pivotal moment of recovered liberty and independence, and the sooner we can enjoy that moment, the better.
Yet much of the debate around the vaccine, and how it is to be given, has turned sour. In some quarters there seems to be a relentless determination to find and spread bad news about it, especially in the argument about how the jabs should be shared among the population.
We were among the first to point out that lockdowns can do more harm than good. And we have repeatedly called for Prime Minister Boris Johnson to listen to a wider selection of expert voices than those on the official Sage committee. But we have never been negative for the sake of it
Surely, given the power of the first dose to protect those who have had it, it makes great sense to ask our older citizens to accept a longer delay between the first and the second inoculation, so that more people can be covered more quickly?
It is ridiculous and rather insulting to older men and women, full of experience of life and well used to the need to be patient, to assume that they cannot cope with a lengthier gap between the first jab and the second.
Why then the great palaver over this idea, as if it was a serious blow to the health of the country, rather than a sensible attempt to do most good in the shortest time?
Of course a free society should encourage criticism of mistakes and failures, or how are we to avoid them in future?
But that is not a licence for relentless negativity. Even during the greatest military triumph in our history, the D-Day invasion of Normandy in June 1944, many things went wrong.
Gliders crashed, parachutists were dropped in the wrong place, landing craft sank, tanks failed to make it to shore. But that was not the story of the day.
The story of the day – quite rightly – was that in an exercise of great bravery, organisation and discipline, a ruthless enemy had been dealt a blow from which it would never recover.
In a smaller but still important way, that is where we now stand.
After gloomy months of disease, isolation, loss of liberty, economic damage, closed schools, travel bans and separation, there is now at last hope that we can win back what we lost, and rebuild our lives. That is what matters, above all.