All the messages coming out of Government about the restrictions on movement and mixing with other people seem to be based on a notion that the general public should appreciate that them up there do know and understand the difficult times they are living through, but please grit your teeth and hang on, because it won’t last for ever. I confess I cold not watch Johnson last evening as I find him too abhorrent and repellent, but he was followed here in Scotland by Mrs. Nicola Sturgeon who is much more rational and over these last months has demonstrated that she understands all the epidemiological terminology and concepts and can explain them lucidly, even if it means going on at some length – which she often does. But she gives her audience credit for being willing to listen, and I give her credit for her assumption that we want to know the truth however complex it is.
My own reading about viruses in general, about the coronavirus strains, and about the present one now renamed “severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2” or (SARS-CoV-2) is that the human body’s response to the virus is mixed and that anti bodies generated by the immune system over time do not persist once the infection has been overcome, although the body retains an ability to react speedily in the event of further infections. But statements that the virus will go away, or that “we shall beat it” like some attacking military force, seem to me to be as yet entirely unproven.
My own instinct therefore is that SARS-CoV-2 is going to be around for a good while yet, and only when an efficacious safe vaccine has been produced in large quantities and administered to a great number of people will the R number be reduced to a small figure and the transmission of the virus has almost ceased, will be able to say that we are in any sort of control. No one has as yet come up with any firm dates for the distribution of an anti SARS-CoV-2 vaccine other than a wide variation of dates in 2021. So the “under control” idea may not be a reality until late 2021 or the following year.
Thus, I think it would be more honest of the Government to plan for extensive restrictions to continue through a large part of 2021 and to brief the public accordingly. It would cause howls of distress from the “Covid is a hoax” mob and the anti vaxxers and those hostile politicians whose only aim is to denigrate and destroy any good thing at the expense of the illness and death of the general public. But to continue with the notion of beating the virus any time soon is wrong, and will only ultimately backfire on the authorities when it becomes evident to the man on the Clapham omnibus that the virus is not under control at all.