How terrified should we be of the new Covid variant nicknamed (on Twitter) ‘Pirola’? Out of our wits? Or should we be more worried that BA.2.86, to give it its official name, is acting as a stalking horse for those who want our country locked down once again and a clamp placed securely over our jaws?
The government has brought forward its booster-jab rollout for the over-65s in response to this new variant, which has so far afflicted slightly more than 100 people worldwide and caused no deaths. This action was not enough for many, though. The Lib Dems’ science spokesman, Layla Moran – a fairly convincing Velma to Ed Davey’s even more convincing Scooby-Doo – has demanded that the vaccine be available for 50- to 64-year-olds and purchasable over the counter in chemists for everybody else. The Deputy First Minister of Scotland, Shona Robison, has refused to rule out lockdown and the compulsory masking up of Scottish people if they dare to venture out of their homes. A number of schools in the USA have re-introduced the masking of pupils, presumably unimpressed by various recent studies which suggest that masks are very close to being of not the slightest defence whatsoever against the transmission of the virus.
The Guardian rolled out a whole bunch of scientists, largely virologists, to demand more vaccinations and a return to regular testing and isolation for those afflicted. And here’s Professor Rowland Kao, a professor of veterinary epidemiology at Edinburgh University, as quoted by the BBC: ‘If you find you have symptoms, you should be isolating if you can. If you can, get a lateral flow test, and I would like to see lateral flow tests become freely available again because a lot of the people who would be taking them can’t afford them.