'Vaccine Minister Zahawi would have us fooled into thinking Covid's all over'
Words are important. They let slip what the politicians are really thinking.
So when vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi talks blithely about “the transition from pandemic to endemic”, I sit up and take notice.
On Sky News, he dismissed reports of a two-week October “firebreak” if Covid-19 cases threaten to overwhelm the country’s hospitals.
How much worse does it have to get? On Tuesday, 37,489 new cases of coronavirus, and 209 deaths. In Australia, we’d all be locked up.
And almost 8,000 in hospital, the highest for months.
Boris Johnson must have known these alarming figures at his “saving the NHS” press conference that day, but he chose to ignore them.
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Instead, he talked up, yet again, the success of the vaccination programme, for which he takes personal credit, though it is down to the hard work of the health service.
He’s desperate to create the illusion that the pandemic is over, and he’s “got Covid done”. Back to Zahawi, whose precise words were: “The booster programme will protect the most vulnerable to serious infection – and that will help us transition the virus from pandemic to endemic.”
Er, what booster programme?
His message is that we must soon learn to live – or die – with coronavirus, because it will always be with us, like flu and chicken-pox.
To my mind, Zahawi’s casual remarks reveal the Government’s private thinking on the pandemic.
They think it’s all over.
Tell that to the families of the 649 people in England who died with Covid in the week ending August 27, on a rising trend of mortality.
Or try it on in Yorkshire, where infection rates are rising in most major towns and cities, to 300 and 400-plus per 100,000 population.
With millions of kids back at school, things are likely to get even worse. Bullish BoJo and cocky Zahawi just don’t get it.
I'll avoid horror show
The first episode of a new TV programme about mass murderers Fred and Rose West goes out on ITV tomorrow.
Like millions of others, I enjoy Miss Marple, Poirot and Midsomer Murders, but I will not be watching. They are crime fiction, but Fred and Rose West: Reopened exploits the brutal slaying of 12 real people, women and girls, at the hands of a sadistic killer couple.
Their deaths are too recent, too sickening, for lurid entertainment like this.
And I’m disappointed that Sir Trevor McDonald got involved with this horror-comic telly. It’s unworthy of such a fine journalist of the old school.
King Coal is not dead, fortunately. When the wind didn’t blow this week, the National Grid had to bring on two extra coal-fired generators to meet electricity demand.
The sets they used, at West Burton power station in Lincolnshire, are due to close next September. National Grid’s rapid response to the blow no-show demonstrates the folly of phasing out the King completely.
Britain needs a stand-by coal-fired power station for emergencies like this. Preferably with fuel mined here. Cop that for a controversial idea.