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COVID: herd immunity may be far away, but herd thinking isn’t

December 13, 2021

This morning my grandson, who’s nearly four, sneezed in my face, not once but twice. What else headed my way apart from half-masticated bits of toast remains to be seen. It would be a bit of an irony if, after thousands of miles of travel and countless PCRs and lateral flow tests over the past couple of months, COVID finally found us (again) through an explosive juvenile eruption.

Because here’s how it might happen. Our grandson goes to nursery. One of his mates has a brother at primary school. They get it through another pupil, who got it through an uncle who commutes to work on the train and doesn’t mask. So the other kid’s family gets it, and our family gets it. Boom! All the more likely with Omicron breaking out everywhere.

Since my wife and I are both triple-vaxxed, the chances are that we would be relatively OK, but we’re not counting on it. Hence a long-planned Christmas gathering (which is the word we must us to avoid calling it a party) is off. Actually, we’d planned to cancel it anyway.

The news that someone has died from Omicron in the UK will probably focus the mind, though I doubt if it will motivate people in sufficient numbers to meet the government’s unlikely stretch target of vaccinating a million people a day with boosters until the end of the year. Nor is it likely to change the minds of the rebels on the government side who plan to vote against the new measures Boris Johnson has proposed to curb the spread of Omicron. Their principal argument seems to be “enough is enough”. Well, it might be for them, but it clearly isn’t for the new variant, which seems to be rather voracious.

I was surprised that one of those who, according to The Spectator, are planning to vote against is Ben Spencer, who until a few months ago was my local Member of Parliament (I’ve now moved away from his constituency). The said Mr Spencer, until he was elected to Parliament in 2019, was an NHS doctor. Admittedly his speciality was mental health, and he appears to have escaped the NHS before COVID struck. But I find it hard to believe that he doesn’t have friends who are still doctors, and who are telling him about the dire experience of spending the past two years on the front line against the virus.

But I suppose I’d forgotten that the ruling party, like the Republican Party in the US, is in thrall to groups of influential politicians whose adherence to extreme positions across a range of issues defy logic, common sense or scientific evidence. Once you’re within the orbit of these people, I imagine it’s hard to escape, so you end up buying into the whole package, just as the QAnon folks seem somewhat unselective over which conspiracy theories they adopt as gospel truth.

Sad, really, that we seem to be light years away from the much-touted herd immunity to COVID, yet there are large groups of people across the country, exemplified by MPs on both sides of the House, who seem incapable of breaking free of herd thinking.

From → Politics, UK, USA

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