These week sees the roll out of the vaccine against Coronavirus. This is a remarkable achievement. The UK is the first country in the world to deliver an approved vaccine and it demonstrates our ability to think quickly and react properly.
There has been much criticism about crony-ism during this pandemic. This is certainly something to be considered and controlled, but when faced with the choice of getting on and delivering a vaccine, or spending 6 months going through a public procurement process which is better? Like the political choice all along has been lives versus livelihoods, the delivery process is protection versus process. There will be an enquiry into all this in due course, but I suspect that our ability to be the very first country in the world to deliver not just one, but multiple drugs to combat CV19, will be seen as a great achievement.
Similarly, too, will be our financial response to all this. Again, the UK’s financial support has not just been ‘quite good’, or ‘above average’. It has been the best, the most forward thinking, the most ambitious financial rescue package in the world. This includes support for the NHS, a health service that is, again, seen as the best free health service on the planet.
When the history books are written on this period, there will be many criticisms. Dominic Cummings’ extraordinary Barnard Castle eyesight test will, I am sure, mark a turning point in the public’s attitude to coping with lockdown. He is now gone, but his removal from Downing Street is long overdue. Similarly, we were slow to lockdown in the first place, and we may have been wiser, with the benefit of hindsight, to have introduced Lockdown II: The Sequel a couple of weeks earlier. But the experience in Wales, who had an earlier circuit breaker, shows that this did not work – especially in the context of their NHS being in crisis.
Any crisis will be seen as a series of small tactics – of one action after another. But it is only when the whole issue is finished will it be possible to see if the grand strategy was the right one and if those delivering it had the ability to change their plans when necessary.
Meanwhile, we have Brexit and who knows if we shall get a deal. But that is for next week.