Boris Johnson holding a vial of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine Boris Johnson holding a vial of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine. Photo: Andrew Parsons / No 10 Downing Street / Flickr / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0, license linked at bottom of article

The Tories are depending on the Covid vaccine to bail them out, but they’re likely to handle the rollout the same way they have the pandemic – catastrophically

The headline grabbing announcement that the first delivery of a coronavirus vaccine was on the way to the UK was accompanied by extremely bombastic language designed to imprint the idea that we are at war with the virus, treating it as an external hostile force rather than a creation of neoliberal capitalist attitudes towards health and the environment.

The swift, much quieter admission that only one delivery was confirmed and that there may be delays to future ones did not match the bullish tone or the militaristic language used in the initial announcement as it once again undermines the official narrative that this pandemic and the attendant crisis was not preventable.

The constant shifting of messaging that has so afflicted the official response to the events so far this year has now found its way to the vaccine prioritisation system, as it has been suggested that frontline healthcare workers will no longer be at the front of the queue for vaccination despite them being at high risk of contracting and spreading the virus through their professional activities.

This will only serve to sow further confusion as people will be unsure as to when or even whether they will be eligible for the vaccine. Due to the unclear timeframe of the rollout, this confusion is set to last for months, which will necessitate the continuation of physical distancing measures and hamper any return to a manageable way of life for many people for the foreseeable future.

In yet another demonstration that they are not fit to govern, the government has managed to forfeit public confidence over the course of the year to such an extent that there is growing scepticism over their ability to administer the vaccine program in a timely and efficient manner.

This coupled with the nonsense peddled by the anti-vaccination movement will make it more difficult than it otherwise would be to organise and monitor the uptake rate, further undermining efforts to bring the pandemic to a certain and complete end.

By relying on private companies to produce a vaccine rather than having a nationalised pharmaceutical industry the government has surrendered any control or responsibility over the production of the treatment. There will be no accountability if the supply is disrupted and no ability to influence or boost the volume of production to the levels that would be needed to quickly create sufficient doses to inoculate enough of the population for the vaccine to be effective. This is typical of this governments’ attitude to the pandemic response, actively bucking responsibility in favour of allowing market forces to dictate the levels of support provided.

Not only is the failure of the government to take responsibility and prevent the virus becoming endemic a betrayal of the population of the UK, it also undermines the efforts of those countries that have followed effective elimination strategies. It will make our recovery slower as those countries will understandably seek extra reassurances that visitors from the UK are not going scupper all of their work by bringing infection to their shores.

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