Sam Leith Sam Leith

Why did we decide that Covid was over?

Clearly, it isn't

Look, I don’t know much epidemiology. Can’t pretend to. So what follows is, necessarily, a personal finger to the wind. But perhaps it chimes with your experience. 

First time round — back in the days when we were all huddled indoors, leaving the house only to stand on the doorstep of a Thursday night to bang pans with a wooden spoon, or making solo expeditions to a denuded supermarket where we do-si-dohed around each-other in the aisles… yes, back in those days, I didn’t know very many people who got Covid. Acquaintances, the odd friend. Some scary stories. Some scarier statistics. But not so many ‘rona stricken friends.

Could we inch towards herd immunity down a road scattered with corpses rather than heaped with them?

In the month or two since we’ve informally decided that Covid is last year’s story, though, they’ve been dropping like flies. Within about 48 hours my brother, mother, nephew and father came down with it (my dad was hospitalised); about half a dozen friends likewise. On Saturday I had to step in last-minute to chair an extra event at the Cliveden Literary Festival because the colleague who was supposed to chair it had tested positive. (‘Welcome to the Cliveden super-spreader event,’ I greeted the audience; it got an uneasy laugh but it may turn out to have been in bad taste.)

The many adults who are getting Covid, including my wife and my father, were fully vaccinated; so there’s that. Kate Bingham, head of the vaccine task force, was at Cliveden with me, and I regret not having got the chance to shake her hand, or at least elbow-bump her: she probably saved my father’s life. But helpful though the vaccines are, they are, as philosophers might say, necessary but not sufficient.

Ever more often, I find myself humming the catchy tune from Team America: World Police: ‘Everyone Has AIDS.’ It’s

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