The Covid crisis has rightly dominated the public’s attention and the government’s agenda over the last year, a year that has seen too many people die, too much sacrifice by people in health and caring roles, too many businesses losing out and too many people losing their jobs. In their memory and for ourselves, we cannot throw away the gains we’ve made and we’ve still got to make sure that we get it right. Part of getting it right is to limit the chance of a new variant hitting this country in the way the so-called Indian variant did. That’s why we need an official inquiry to learn what went right and what went wrong and quickly, so government can learn the lessons about, for example, closing the borders on time and not delaying as happened with that variant. And we should learn the good lesson of the successful development of the different Covid vaccines and the way our NHS and local councils rolled out the vaccination programme. That vaccination programme has prevented the huge build-up of hospital cases and the filling of our intensive care beds that we saw last year. But even now a good number of people have not come forward for the vaccine they are entitled to and some are included amongst those who are vulnerable and could end up very ill and hospitalised. I recognise that some are nervous of vaccines although very few of those in the medical profession take that view. So I would urge everyone, especially those over forty, to come forward and get the vaccination. It helps you and helps to keep our families and our community safe.
There is no doubt though that as soon as we can, we must make sure that the whole world gets a vaccination. It’s the only way that we can stop new variants of Covid appearing and threatening us all over again. That’s why it was so disappointing that the recent G7 meeting of the world’s richest countries, saw Prime Minister Johnson making a big deal of an offer of one billion vaccines for the developing world. The need is for 11 billion vaccines. I am still calling on him to do his job and galvanise the G7 to do more so that they protect us all. This was no time for politics, it’s time for common sense.
This article was originally published in the Rochdale Observer on 26 June 2021.