SO it looks as if we might have found our way out of the pandemic. Rather like many earlier diseases including influenza the answer is a vaccine. Of course we have a way to go to achieve a 100% secure inoculation but all the signs are good.
Like influenza, covid-19 is not going away. The virus will remain in circulation for decades yet. The hope is we can maintain control, limit its impact and in particular keep it out of our hospitals and mortuaries.
The time is fast approaching when we must do the reckoning. Blame will be easy to apportion – a lack-lustre government led by a mendacious and vacillating man whose inclination is always towards bullshit rather than brains, optimism rather than realism made worse by an assemblage of third rate ministers incapable of persuading their boss that the game was up.
But what to do? In fact that too is not difficult – BE PREPARED. Indeed you could put Boris in shorts and a toggle and almost hear him say it to his troop.
It was his Tory peers who got us into this mess. They who led us into the dark waters of unpreparedness. Them and their mantra of austerity have now cost us billions.
I read only the other day that the UK has only seven ICU (HDU) beds per 100,000 population compared to more than 20 in most European countries.
And we know from bitter experience that we had inadequate PPE.
And that we lacked spare hospital capacity due to the closing of wards formerly mothballed against emergency need.
And inadequate spare capacity of ventilators.
Plus we ended up building Nightingale bed farms for which we actually had no staff and no equipment and ultimately no use. And a long trusted test and trace system was allowed to decline and has had to be restored. It has taken almost a year!
As events unfolded we also proved incapable of marshalling forces to help us in a fiscally sound way. Instead we sprayed contracts worth billions at every old chum who put their hand up and ended up among other insanities with one car park in Kent (among many I will bet) in which either 48 or 96 containers full of rejected PPE will languish until we wake up and send it to help out in Africa.
So we also need to prepare a contacting process that can reliably and securely deliver contracts to suitable and proven sources in a secure and effective way without the need for protracted tendering processes.
This is all called Emergency Planning and it used to be something even I in my small way played a part. And it mattered. Every year the plans were dusted down, rehearsed, revised and restored to readiness. While I and the media practised messaging (which didn't go well either!) my colleagues were reviewing their suppliers, contracts, commitments.
Most important is to restore our state of preparedness for emergencies in general. There had been a disgraceful reduction before this pandemic and the cost of catch up probably is about one third of all the costs. Spending every year on readiness can save billions.