Reopening our society, wisely and at the right moment, will save lives

MAIL ON SUNDAY COMMENT: Reopening our society, wisely and at the right moment, will save lives

The spreading success of the Covid vaccine remains a source of inspiration and hope. The sight of civilisation mobilising all its might in the cause of life and health – instead of, as so often, for war or conflict – is a moving one from which we can all draw many lessons.

And it is just as impressive now the immunisation programme has moved – from the grand scale of strategy, invention and research, such as the organisational skills of Kate Bingham and the scientific brilliance of Oxford University – into the small scale of the individual jabs. 

We are now at the stage where the liberation of the people from the fear of the virus is being carried on by individuals, those who give the jabs, minute by minute, and those who patiently wait for them.

Within a few weeks, the practical achievement will be so great that it will begin to transform life. 

A woman wearing a protective face mask is pictured walking past a boarded up and closed store along Oxford Street in London (file photo)

How silly the Labour leader, Sir Keir Starmer, looks now. Sir Keir had said five times that it would be better for Britain to stay in the European Medicines Agency, which has been far slower at giving vaccines the green light than the UK. 

No wonder he tried to deny it in Parliament last week. But the truth was soon out. It is Boris Johnson’s Government, with its healthy respect for British abilities, which has got us this far.

The Labour Party, even now more than half in love with EU bureaucracy, still doesn’t get it. 

Even the EU’s bumbling chief, Ursula von der Leyen, has grasped what British EU-lovers do not, admitting: ‘I am aware that alone a country can be a speedboat, while the EU is more like a tanker.’ Exactly right, Frau von der Leyen.

But how soon will this country actually experience the benefits of all this enterprise and ingenuity, in the shape of recovered freedom?

The Mail on Sunday wholly supports the Prime Minister’s determination to make sure that this is the last lockdown.

We are now at the stage where the liberation of the people from the fear of the virus is being carried on by individuals, those who give the jabs, minute by minute, and those who patiently wait for them. Pictured: An Asda vaccination centre in Cape Hill, near Birmingham

So we understand the Cabinet’s hesitation over reopening Britain too soon, forcing it to break such an important promise later. 

We also back the policy of vaccinating the most vulnerable first, surely the best way of taming the virus as quickly as possible.

And we understand that it may be some time yet before a large enough part of the population have received their jabs for the effects on infections and the death rate to be as visible as we all hope they will be.

The Government should not raise false hopes. But at this dank, dark, dreary and cold moment in the year, with Christmas long gone and spring hard to imagine, there is a growing need for something to hope for. The economy – which sustains all the good things in life – needs it. 

Sir Keir had said five times that it would be better for Britain to stay in the European Medicines Agency, which has been far slower at giving vaccines the green light than the UK. Pictured: the Labour Party leader in the House of Commons on February 3

The schools need it, and must surely open on March 8. Divided families need it. Suffering businesses need it. And it is Ministers who must in the end decide this.

Technical advisers, in the ever-growing undergrowth of Sage and its sub-committees, often see only one side of the argument and have no wider responsibilities than a desire to be totally safe at all costs.  

But total safety is not just an impossible aim. It can stand in the way of necessary medical treatments and of the human happiness vital to good health. 

Reopening our society, done wisely and at the right moment, will save lives. Let the decision be taken with care and patience. But let it be taken.

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