Freedom day: a gamble or a safe bet?

Whilst Tory ministers celebrate so called “freedom day” in England, coronavirus is ripping through the UK, leading to mounting health problems caused by long Covid and pressures on the overstretched NHS. Once again, the Tories are putting profits before lives in a cruelly expected fashion. 

Boris Johnson ended mandatory Covid-19-related restrictions on Monday (19 July 2021). This is despite the fact that the country is now seeing over 50,000 new Covid-19 cases per day and there are still no plans to make vaccines generally available to under 18s.

The Tories are gambling that the vaccination program will mitigate the worst effects of the “natural wave” but as cases continue to rise, by the law of numbers, deaths and hospitalisations will inevitably increase, too.

Meanwhile, the potential health impacts of long COVID are unknown without rigorous scientific data on the condition, especially for children and teenagers, who will be in the community, completely unvaccinated, and without any form of social distancing for protection.

On top of these risks is the potential for the UK to become a breeding ground for a vaccine resistant variant with the government taking a ‘let Covid rip through the population’ approach to the virus. Britain is already in the midst of another coronavirus tsunami that is still growing.

Not only does this have the potential to cause significant damage to public health and the NHS, but it will also wreak havoc on the economy despite the Tories’ aim of reopening rapidly precisely in order to help big business. Hundreds of thousands of workers are being told to quarantine after coming into contact with those who have tested positive, highlighting the disregard to workers’ health and safety. Last week alone, the NHS COVID-19 app sent over half a million such alerts to people in England alone. Anger is widespread as the situation is only going to get worse in the days and weeks ahead.

Health Secretary, Sajid Javid, has conceded that Covid-19 cases could reach over 100,000 a day this summer, in the absence of any restrictions in contrast to notable scientists’ opinions such as former SAGE member, Professor Neil Ferguson, who are predicting 200,000 cases per day at the height of this new wave. As a result, Javid and other ministers have been forced to soften their stance , and accept the possibility of further lockdowns. The Prime Minister has recently changed his tune, vacuously ‘urging caution’ as the government lifts all remaining restrictions.

Halima Abdi, is a member of the YCL’s London branch

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