“I think we are absolutely fucked. I think this country is heading for disaster. I think we’re going to kill thousands of people.” According to Dominic Cummings, those were the words spoken by the then deputy cabinet secretary Helen MacNamara on March 13 2020 when she realised that the UK had no plan for dealing with the unfolding COVID crisis.
And it’s not over yet. The UK’s tally of COVID-19 cases – undoubtedly an underestimate – is now 4.5 million, with over 127,000 COVID deaths. Between half and 1 million people, including 122,000 healthcare workers and 114,000 teachers – give or take a few tens of thousands – remain too sick to work full time. Highly contagious mutant variants, which entered the country recently through ineffective border controls, are spreading exponentially, causing new local outbreaks. Effective prevention measures, such as mask mandates in secondary schools, are being prematurely rolled back. The UK’s third wave is predicted to be small but could yet dwarf the previous two waves.
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