Covid Normal, Part 2: England

England’s Covid-normal gamble has begun. Amidst a previously unseen mid-summer acceleration in virus transmission, with case numbers rivalling last winter’s third wave, England has decided to eliminate Covid-related behavioural restrictions.

It’s a bold move, capable of either showing the way to normal post-lockdown life in a vaccinated world, or ending in tragedy. With active cases in the UK having risen from 200,000 to almost a million over the past month, we’ll soon find out which (in the statistics, Covid deaths tend to trail Covid infections by just 1-2 weeks).

As you can see below, the trajectory of new Covid-19 infections is approaching previous peaks. Active cases are approaching the same levels as over New Year.

Yet thanks to the vaccine, the number of Covid-19 deaths remains low. Although the AstraZeneca (AZ) vaccine, which Britain has relied upon, was not among the most effective, it appears to be working to limit the more drastic possible outcomes of infection.

Supporters of the lifting of Covid restrictions have, in their usual self-aggrandizing tone, dubbed Monday, when restrictions were lifted, as “Freedom Day.” Others, including London Mayor Sadiq Khan, have been much more circumspect about how the situation may evolve.

The UK lags few major countries in its vaccination rate, with 53% of Brits fully vaccinated and another 15% having received their first shot. Although they were ground zero for the AstraZeneca (AZ) vaccine roll-out when it was first released last December, the UK also obtained 100m Pfizer shots as well as 300m doses from various other companies, along with its 100m doses of the AZ vaccines developed at Oxford.

It’s a tremendous display of First-World privilege. The rest of the world will be watching over the coming fortnight to see if that privilege allows the UK to achieve world-first Covid normality.

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