Muhammad Daniyal discusses the possibility of a third national lockdown.
As things seem to be heading in the right direction after a long and a rather horrible year – with almost 1 million people having received their first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, and with the imminent role out of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine – we do have to ask ourselves: should we allow ourselves to be careless and rely too heavily on vaccines?
Since the start of the pandemic, we have been optimistic that a vaccine could be made within 18 months, like it's the Messiah which will save us from this virus. Well, now it has been made, nevertheless, can things go out of control, and will the virus escalate in 2021, without a proper cure
I, in no way, intend to say that the vaccines are useless, or haven’t been properly developed or tested, or that there might be troubles when delivering them to everyone. What I mean, is that in the South East of the UK, the virus is out of control and spreading rapidly in London and areas outside of the M25. The Secretary of State for Health & Social Care, Matt Hancock, on 14th December stated that a new variant of the COVID-19 has been identified and that this was the likely cause of the virus now spreading sharply in the South East of the UK. Now, London’s Epping Forest this week recorded a rate of 1328.9 new cases in the seven days to December 27, the highest rate in England. The top 14 places also includes the London boroughs of Barking and Dagenham, Bexley, Enfield, Newham, Basildon in Essex and London's Tower Hamlets. Furthermore, figures estimate that 10% of new cases in Wales involve the new variant and according to the Financial Times, scientists warn that the new variant of the virus is also spreading quickly across Europe
On the 20th December, London, many parts of the South East and East of England entered into Tier 4 restrictions, and as of the 30th December Matt Hancock announced that 24 million people in England would find themselves in Tier 4 as 2020 came to a close. As the new strain spreads across the country, and with Wales, Northern Ireland and mainland Scotland all introducing the highest level of restrictions, we have to ask the question: are we heading towards a third national lockdown?
Speculation now points towards the introduction of a new Tier 5, that could resemble the first national lockdown for the most infected areas, as cases continue to soar. However, Matt Hancock maintains that the UK will not be plunged back into a national lockdown or Tier 5. But with Government scientists reportedly urging the Prime Minister to implement stricter measures to stop the virus from spiralling out of control, urgent action needs to be taken. If we’ve learnt anything over the last year, being slow to act can be deadly. The death toll has sadly now exceeded 70,000, and the number of patients being treated for the virus in hospitals in England is 20,426, exceeding the 18,974 patients recorded at the peak in April.
In light of all these points, I would like to start a conversation about this. Readers, what do you think: Are we heading towards a third lockdown? What do you think the Government needs to be doing to get the virus under control?
Muhammad Daniyal is a Year 9 student, and is interested in law and politics, which are his favourite subjects outside the school curriculum. He tweets at @AskMDaniyal.