Monday 22 February 2021 10:14 am

Vaccine success study means jabs should be the only 'test' for UK unlocking

Ah, Bonnie Scotland. You’re almost forgiven for the Six Nations.

A new study of the entire Scottish population released this morning presents the best news of the year so far. 

Long story short, the risk of hospitalisation as a result of Covid-19, four weeks after a vaccine dose, falls by either 85 per cent (Pfizer) or 94 per cent (Oxford/AstraZeneca).

This is good news. Big, fat, stick it up in neon lights on Piccadilly Circus good news. 

Read more: Breaking: Covid vaccines reduce hospitalisations by 94 per cent in Scotland

And it also, on first look, explodes the logic for the crushingly-slow unlocking of society we seem set for. 

The vaccination program, proven to be effective, should be the only measure of when, how, and why we get out of lockdown. It stops people getting seriously ill. It, fairly obviously therefore, stops people dying. 

Last year, that logic would have been blindingly obvious to Downing Street.

But the goalposts have shifted without our noticing – away from protecting the NHS, or reducing case load. Instead, the logic for the abundance of caution is the risk of new variants. 

The new logic is thus: if the virus continues to circulate amongst the unvaccinated, though it won’t make them particularly ill (fewer than 1 per cent of deaths are amongst the under-44s), then it may develop a mutation that the vaccine isn’t effective against. 

Fine. But the vaccines are effective against the variants identified already, and both the firms involved in development and the UK’s genomic sequencers believe that mutations can be easily spotted, and vaccine boosters developed. 

Yet the existing thought process seems to be to ignore this, and instead allow the fear of a new super-variant the like of which there is currently no evidence of to keep us locked down and the economy in cold-storage. 

If there is evidence beyond ‘well it might do,’ let us see it.

Let’s have the PM explain what it means to say that we can never be sure there isn’t a sneaky variant hiding around the corner.

We know the externalities of lockdown. Mental health crisis. Historically long NHS waiting lists for other treatments. Unemployment spiking, and a delayed public debt bomb.

Getting the vaccine in people’s arms. One test. Not four.

City A.M.'s opinion pages are a place for thought-provoking views and debate. These views are not necessarily shared by City A.M.