We need to start talking now about how life will be once jabs make Covid less deadly than the flu

By | 27th January 2021

… troubling infection rates and daily death counts, although impossible to ignore, are not the only way to understand this pandemic and our attempts to defeat it. After all, there is real hope for the future thanks to the creation of new vaccines.

But we still need clear heads if we want to phase out the restrictions crippling normal life. Above all, we must dispel the current mood of fear and the arguments of those who thrive upon that fear…

Footage from intensive care units looks dramatic on television, but most people go through the infection and recover quietly in the community, not on wards. Distressed and angry voices from hospitals appeal to our emotions but they must not dominate the way we think. Crisis management is not the same as planning…

In a vaccinated population, Covid-19 will mostly mean a few days off work and will very rarely result in serious illness. It will sometimes go completely unnoticed…

In the end, this is a question of democracy. Chris Whitty has rightly challenged the country to think about what level of deaths might be tolerable in exchange for a return to the lives we led in 2019.

That is not a matter for any group of experts – scientific, medical, ethical or even sociological. If citizens are to debate this properly, though, we must get beyond emotions stirred up by fear to understand the real – but modest – risks that go with an open society and a thriving economy.

A Social Science Space blog

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