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Masked Views

We are awaiting confirmation that England will release most of the rest of its lockdown restrictions later this month but, from all the newspaper ‘insights’ and political posturing, it sounds likely to be going ahead, despite the fact that infection rates are surging up again. I understand the argument that, at some point, we’ve got to get back to more normality, that the economic challenges bring their own health and social threats and that the summer is probably the optimal time of year, all other things considered. I can even go someway towards the idea that now is the time to take more moves in that direction. However, I’m deeply concerned about the suggestion mask wearing is going to be reduced to a matter of personal choice.

Did our ‘we follow the science’ government miss the bit where it was made very clear that masks, particularly the simple ones most of us have as opposed to the medical ones that medical staff need priority on, are much more effective at protecting other people from any infection the wearer is harbouring than at protecting the wearer from picking up infection? It doesn’t take much sense to see that, if ‘common sense’ is the guide, then there are going to be a lot of high risk people sharing their disease.

Are we more protected from infection if we’ve been double-jabbed? Significantly so. Does multiplying the level of infections (going up despite continued vaccine roll out) increase the chance of producing further variants of concern? Also likely – viruses follow patterns based on mathematics and not reduced by blather.

I’m concerned that it will be hard to avoid coming in much closer contact with infected people when I do things like going to the supermarket. I know that people with compromised immune systems are facing an indefinite spell of staying under effective house arrest. I know of of people who rely on young carers who don’t plan to be vaccinated or wear masks but I’m not sure it will be possible to force those so-called carers to seek different employment or replace them if they chose to leave.

So, I propose that Parliament require that the next UK originating variants of concern be known informally as ‘the Boris variant’ and ‘the Javid variant’ (we’ll keep Johnson and Sajid in stock if further ones are needed). After all, it is common sense that those making the decisions get to carry the responsibility for them.

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