Covid support packages are eye-wateringly expensive, but the cost for society is even higher - big government is back
First it was lockdown, then it was test and trace, then vaccines, and now total isolation from the rest of the world, on pain of 10 years imprisonment for travellers who fail to disclose they’ve been to a country on the Government’s red list.
Like a constantly receding destination, salvation from the wretched virus is seemingly always just beyond the horizon, one last heave away from success.
We march in hope only never to arrive, with prospects of a credible and sustainable exit strategy again looking as far away as ever.
The Government promises to publish a comprehensive road map out of lockdown later this month, yet with each passing day, the criteria required for an easing of restrictions gets more demanding still.
We’d all assumed that once everyone above the age of 50 had been vaccinated, which on the present impressively fast rate of progress should be by early April, we’d be home free, as there are very few hospitalisations and deaths among those in younger cohorts.
But no, say the scientific advisers and modellers. A virus running free among younger citizens who are not yet vaccinated could still exact a heavy toll.
Not until 70pc of the population is inoculated can we start to feel remotely safe, they say, and even then, we will still need to worry about new, vaccine-resistant variants.
Is there no end to the current misery? Seemingly not. Yet it is also a statement of fact that, as Colonel Bill Kilgore says in Apocalypse Now, “someday this war’s gonna end”.
Well let’s be optimistic, and assume that today’s vaccines do indeed do the trick, or at least that the vaccine developers can stay ahead of the mutants with booster jabs.
If that’s the case, we should be over the worst by the late summer. What sort of a world will the war against Covid leave behind?
Anyone dreaming of a return to the old normality can forget it. The disease marks a defining point in history, where lots of things which have been incubating for years finally fall into place and the world shifts decisively on its axis.