The NHS ‘1940s-style national bureaucracy-religion can never cope no matter how much money it is given. We are not the nation of freedom lovers that libertarian romantics naively thought we were, most of the time preferring perceived security to freedom. Too many of our compatriots like to prey on their neighbors and are pathologically incapable of rational, comprehensive and long-term cost-benefit analyzes. Another sad truth: our society does not properly value the education and development of children.
There are several consequences to this strange blanc-manger attitude. Our vaccination rates among people aged 12 and over – 88.6% received the first doses, 80.6% the second and 31.7% the third – are higher than in many other countries. It has saved many lives, and it is unlikely to see the horrors of compulsory jabs like in Austria and advocated by Germany and Ursula von der Leyen. Our blockages, although extreme, were fortunately not as severe as those of Australia, China or France. But our ideological obsession with state health care delivery and an insanely low civil service has cost thousands of needless deaths.
We’ve also discovered something almost as damning over the past couple of years: It may suit a lot of people that the country is in a state of emergency, which also explains the over-enthusiastic support from the political establishment. bureaucratic-medical to restrictions that will do little, if anything, to slow the omicron down.
To be clear: I despise silly internet conspiracy theories, and of course the government would like the new variant to die out quickly. The pandemic has been a nightmare: it nearly claimed the Prime Minister’s life, directly killed some 145,000 in the UK (before the indirect effects and lockdown were factored in) and derailed the agenda and the economics of the Conservatives. Many in Whitehall will once again suffer from sleepless nights.
Yet it’s also an uncomfortable truth that for some there is a silver lining to the events of the past few days: Giving press conferences and being seen to act boldly is easier than politics as usual. It helps that the government is not so grilled on second jobs for MPs, or the fact that thousands of people still cross the Channel. The return of a sense of crisis should make the public more forgiving of government failures. Voters may view the cost of living crisis and the broken promises on national insurance with more sympathy. The SNP and the Welsh governments will also benefit.
It is not just for politicians that there is a benefit of omicron-induced change on the national agenda. It is suitable for large companies and incompetent managers who have taken advantage of the Covid to degrade their customer service. They blamed Brexit; now they blame omicron. It’s handy for disruptive unions and lazy employees looking for an excuse to work less. This will encourage some to seek an extremely extended festive period to work from home, regardless of employers’ needs or the added burden placed on coworkers. It suits the public sector and its willingness to put the interests of producers before those of consumers. Closed schools and canceled nurseries are a horrific and immoral blow to children, but they bring water to the mill of militant unions.
The worst offender, as always, is the NHS, whose overworked doctors and nurses continue to be abandoned by a hopelessly flawed institution. Omicron allows her not to reinstate face-to-face GP appointments, even if that means more non-Covid-related deaths, and to ignore her huge backlog. Christmas and canceled holidays will make his life easier: The NHS wants us to work for him, rather than him to serve us.
Public health fanatics thrive when restrictions are imposed: they like to tell people what to do. Ditto some radical environmentalists. No wonder it is always easier to impose restrictions than to remove them: many interest groups benefit.
The government wants to tackle the variant by speeding up recalls, implying the belief that current vaccines will also prevent omicron deaths and hospitalizations. But why did it take a new variant to galvanize the health service into action? Why had he contented himself with giving 2.5 million third jabs per week, against 4 million at the height of his deployment? Why did he dismantle his infrastructure? The government’s handling of the crisis and its decision to call in the military is an easy short-term tactic to fill the NHS gap and camouflage the failure to force real change.
The new fear is also helping the NHS avoid tough questions about antivirals. Americans believe Covid will soon be completely defeated thanks to apparent wonder drugs such as Pfizer’s Paxlovid. But not only do we have to buy more doses, but delivery is essential: the pills must be taken as soon as Covid becomes visible in the patient. What is the NHS plan for mass testing and prescribing?
To Johnson’s credit, he had managed to make us more Swedish (in terms of Covid policy) before omicron. Starting with Freedom Day, he ushered in a new British model that was vastly more liberal than that pursued by most developed countries. Thanks to vaccinations, we have learned to live with a high level of infections, especially among young people, and a tolerable flu-like death toll. We should have stung faster, but other than that the strategy was correct: we were treating the virus as if it was endemic.
Omicron is a major setback, but if it turns out to be manageable with current vaccines, Johnson must quickly reverse all restrictions imposed last week. Living in a permanent state of emergency makes life easier for bureaucrats and zero risk poopers, but it quickly leads to the ruin of a nation.