Another day, another Covid-19 update in the House of Commons for the health secretary. It is a ritual Matt Hancock knew rather well. Since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, which may or may not have occurred just before the Black Death of 1348, Hancock is believed to have spent an accumulated 227 years giving Covid-19 updates at the despatch box of the House of Commons, to the extent where he felt he had no choice but to hide a CCTV camera in his own office and leak its horrific footage to The Sun newspaper, just to get out of doing another one.
Airport bookshop philosopher Malcolm Gladwell has claimed in the past that anyone can master anything with 10,000 hours of practice, so it will be a relief to him just as much as anyone else, that Matt Hancock is no longer publicly disproving his theory. Hancock, if anything, got worse not better as the hours of miserable repetition turned into days, months, weeks, years and whole geological eras.
It’s Sajid Javid’s turn now. Sajid Javid is back, which is great news for Sajid Javid, but appalling news for political sketch writers. If Sajid Javid had been on the battlefield at Gettysburg in 1863, and even if he’d had the wisdom to employ Abraham Lincoln as his speech writer, he would still somehow have managed to confer upon the occasion the feel of a round-the-desk leaving drinks speech for a hitherto unnoticed accountant.
This was, ostensibly, day two of the great return to freedom. Life is getting back to normal, and you know that life is getting back to normal when you’re prizing your eyelids open with match sticks, valiantly trying to stay awake in case Sajid Javid actually says something that might matter.
Which he did, in the end. He announced that, wait for it, double-vaccinated people will no longer have to self isolate if they come into close contact with a positive case, and nor will under-18s. In the latter’s case this policy will start in August, in time for the start of the next school year, but not in time for the end of this one, which most parents will tell you already ended, in any meaningful sense, quite a few weeks ago.
Things are going back to normal, the Saj was here to say. Well, not exactly normal. The “normal” that things are going to go back to is likely to involve 100,000 new Covid-19 cases per day. Which is kind of fine, isn’t it, now the vaccine has broken the link between Covid-19 cases and hospitalisation and death? It’s even more fine if you’re prepared to just kind of ignore Chris Whitty’s comments on live TV yesterday, when he sort of said how no one really knows how well the vaccines work in protecting against long Covid, which no one really knows how many people in the country are currently suffering from, but it could be up to a million.
The other thing you kind of just have to not worry about as well is the certain fact that millions of new cases means millions more chances for a new variant to emerge. Just try and forget how that Kent variant thing came about when the country was already in the middle of the strictest level of lockdown anyway, and just sort of hope there won’t be another one coming along. Because there’s no going back now. The one way journey to freedom is reaching its very last stop, and everything’s definitely going to be absolutely fine.