It has been a quiet couple of days from the Government, who in surfing terms have made the drop and are amped on the crest of the vaccine wave. And who can blame them? They have sketched a roadmap out of lockdown and even managed to beat away a verified threat from Johnny Foreigner coming over here to take all our jabs.
Whenever the chips are down and the stakes high, trouncing continental invaders absolves the gravest of sins. I mean, who is still bemoaning the trashed economy and the grotesque death rate? The official opposition remains Marcus Rashford and the Conservative backbenches.
At best, this roadmap appears to be the most agreeable sidestep from the precipice, which betrays just how low the bar has now been placed for the definition of ‘success’. The best-placed judges of triumph will doubtless be our future generations, who will after all be footing the bill. They can add it on to their prodigious student debt and joy-crushing mortgages (if they can get one).
In the meantime, more fun and games are shuffling edgily in the lobby. The vaccine passport is bearing up to be the new elephant – or rather gargantuan sabre-toothed woolly mammoth – in the room.
And here is why. If current jab take-up is 90% in the UK, that will ultimately still leave us with a thumping 6.5 million bods without viral protection. While the estimated unvaccinated percentage looks low, the number of bodies requiring care might well be more than sufficient to swamp hospital ICUs. For once, I am not knocking the achievement of a 90% hit rate. It is simply that hospital capacity is a hard numbers thang, not a representation.
Accordingly, such a number might be sufficiently voluminous to crank up a debilitating spike for the NHS, just when we think we are home and dry. And that may well follow hot on the heels of Freedom Day when all restrictions are planned to be lifted.
A vaccines quid pro quo therefore seems a viable option because compulsory needling just would not work if each patient had to be arrested and strapped down. Such draconian measures might also evoke an extreme strain of the repressive measures that Freedom Day will be seeking to expunge.
So, a tiered freedom may well be the answer, but it hums of identity cards and the affirmation of a police state.
Gove has however categorically ruled vaccine passports out, so that in itself should afford them immediate odds-on status. Somebody has probably already been on the blower to Ronaldinho regarding the passport contract and of course a procurement process waiver. Don’t knock it – at least he has some experience in the field.
In other news, Johnson has defenestrated a SPAD for having – wait for it – ‘briefed against Michael Gove’.
Whatever next? The pot denying that all kettles matter and not just the black ones?
Whatever unfolds, this was always already the era of mandatory pricks.