Evening Standard Comment: We will have to learn to live with Covid risk

·1 min read
 (Christian Adams)
(Christian Adams)

As the Prime Minister addressed the nation on the four-week delay to the end of lockdown, a key piece of data with potentially greater long-term consequences landed.

Public Health England revealed that both the Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccines are over 90 per cent effective against hospitalisation after two doses.

This tells us two things: first, that the short delay to the lifting of lockdown is sensible to ensure more people can be fully vaccinated; and second, that it should be the last.

A four-week delay will have a major impact on businesses. Within days of the original June 21 date, firms will face a tsunami of costs, from the lifting of the ban on commercial rent evictions to business rates relief falling from 100 per cent to 67 per cent.

Rather than prolonging furlough — hospitality is already struggling to hire staff — the Government should extend direct support to struggling businesses, without which those not already saddled with debt cannot plan any long-term future.

Postponing the lifting of restrictions until July 19 provides one element of clarity, but the Government must now provide the rest.

That means being clear on the vaccine metrics we must hit to reopen — in London, there are a further 3.6 million first and second doses to be offered by July 19, on the basis of ONS population data.

The Government must also explain to the public that Covid-19 will remain endemic like flu and that there will be winter deaths, just like flu.

Once we sever the link between infections, hospitalisation and death, it will be time to learn to live with some risk, as we have always done with our health.

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