Covid for Christmas: Round 2

The impact Covid could have on the upcoming Christmas is discussed.

Marcel Shamshoum
22nd December 2021
Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2. Image Credits: Wikimedia Commons.
While I cannot express my views freely in my country or criticize my own government for that matter; I’d like to acknowledge and appreciate the freedoms I have here in the UK. And while we’re at I’ll criticize this government instead.

Since the beginning of the pandemic we have seen different governments struggle with different approaches to combat Covid-19 and its various mutations. But I’ve got to admit, Boris’s government definitely stands out. The first lockdown was kind of okay until they lifted restriction in the summer of 2020, after which cases kept rising and were at an all-time high by November 2020. The PM was still convinced that we could celebrate Christmas normally at that point. People were hopeful that they will go back home and celebrate with loved ones, but surprise surprise Boris was wrong and tier 4 restrictions (remember that) were enforced on December 21st 2020. And that was how Boris ruined the first Christmas.  

Fast forward to today, we find ourselves in a similar situation. A new variant has emerged, Christmas is just a couple of weeks away and covid cases are climbing. And yes the government has now made masks mandatory, but unfortunately that alone won’t suffice. What I think the government should do is, yes keep the masks but also start implementing the use of vaccine passports. So far the vaccination programme has been outstanding where almost 20 million booster jabs have been administered in the UK, thus highlighting the importance of a vaccine passport. Using a vaccine passport system we eliminate the possibility of infection in areas where facemasks are not possible like clubs, bars and even pubs and restaurants. I understand some people may be exempt but a proof of exemption would be their passport. A couple of weeks ago the government enthusiastically announced that people can now view their booster shot on their vaccine passport on the NHS app, but I say to the government what is the point of having it on the NHS app when we are not using it?

Now the question remains, is another lockdown plausible? I don’t think so, however the government did say that they will not rule anything out. But let’s face it, we are all tired of lockdowns and closing, yet at the same time we must acknowledge that the pandemic is far from over and therefore each person should do their duty to keep themselves and others safe. But unfortunately we can’t rely on ourselves, and remarks such as Johnson rather seeing "bodies piled high" than a third lockdown imply the government valued popular support over safety. Personally I don’t think any lockdown is appropriate at the moment, travel I doubt will stop due to the detrimental economic effects it will have, work from home is possible but closure of shops and the hospitality industry is out of the question. However, even though I believe this should have been implemented back in the summer, it is still not late to keep wearing masks in crowded areas and indoor spaces (excluding hospitality), and where masks are not possible make vaccine passports mandatory; these two simple steps along with vaccinations (including boosters) are the key formula to celebrate Christmas as close to normal as possible.

At the same time I’ve got to address the concerns about the omicron variant, but while it is worrying and people should be taking proper precautions, panic is not the answer. So far scientists have indicated that this variant can easily evade the immune system, this doesn’t mean that vaccines are no longer effective, Prof Peter Openshaw of Imperial College London says: “It is extremely unlikely this variant will evade vaccines completely”. That is why getting the second jab and third booster jab are essential at this stage. In terms of how severe illness can omicron cause, it is still early to say; yet preliminary evidence suggest that so far “the number of cases of Omicron infections does not seem to translate at this stage into the hospitalisation rates we would have expected with similar numbers of cases of Alpha or other variants” according to Prof Francois Balloux, director of the Genetics Institute at University College London. Nevertheless, this variant can spread very rapidly infecting more people, and some of these people may be vulnerable.

So to conclude, in my view omicron is no different from any other variant, masks should be worn in crowded and indoor spaces and introduce vaccine passports. Also, getting your jab is as essential as your Christmas shopping right now, so get it done! Finally let’s all be sensible in our actions especially these upcoming weeks so that we can celebrate Christmas with loved ones and not have to relive the nightmare of last year’s tier 4 restrictions (remember that). 

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