Comment: Rising COVID case numbers have me worried
I am currently more scared of coronavirus than at any previous point in the pandemic.
With cases rapidly rising again in Scotland, and especially in Edinburgh, it only feels like a matter of time before I catch it. Each 30-minute wait for my twice-weekly lateral flow test is filled with anxiety as I hope for a negative result.
No one wants to go back into lockdown. After a year of restrictions on where we can go and who we can see, all of us are looking forward to more freedom. And we’ve been repeatedly promised it by those in charge. The vaccine was meant to be a light at the end of the tunnel that no one wants to dim.
And while it’s true that the vaccine does seem to be “breaking the link”, as Nicola Sturgeon has repeatedly said, between the number of positive cases and serious illness, I still can’t help but fear what could come next. The fact is we don’t know enough about the long-term impacts of the virus, of Long COVID, of whether the vaccine will continue to be effective when other variants (all but inevitable if we continue to let the virus flash through the population) emerge.
At this point, it almost feels like the UK’s governments are pursuing a herd immunity strategy by stealth. Sure, it’s bolstered by a vaccine to protect the elderly and most vulnerable, but it’s not 100 per cent effective (and early data suggests vaccines are less effective on the Delta variant than previous iterations), a significant proportion of the population is yet to receive both doses and even people double-vaxed are still getting ill.
It speaks to the mismanagement of the pandemic for the last year. We locked down too late, we didn’t heed the warnings from other countries, and we didn’t make best use of the fact we are an island able to close its borders relatively easily.
Now we are the Delta capital of Europe, cases are rising and no government is doing anything to stop that. The political will to close down again isn’t there, nor is there any clamour for such a move from a public absolutely dog-tired by the last 16 months.
I’m not blaming anyone for not wanting to return to a more restrictive way of living. I don’t want that either.
But I am blaming the government for allowing us to get to a point where Delta was able to seed so easily. For a contact tracing system that has never been fully on its feet. For allowing football fanzones to go ahead in cities already struggling to keep case numbers low.
And I will blame them again if not responding to this third wave now means a new vaccine-immune variant is created in the UK.
There’s still a long way to go in this pandemic yet, with global vaccine rates low and much of the ‘new normal’ to remain in place for some time.
I just hope my fear is misplaced and government actions aren’t putting a truly free future at risk.