The Spectator

Yes, Bob Geldof, Africans know it’s Christmas. Do you know it’s time to pack Band Aid in?

In this week’s Spectator, out tomorrow, our leading article looks at the Band Aid 30 single and why it’s time for Bob Geldof to pack Band Aid in. Pickup a copy tomorrow or subscribe from just £1 here

Anyone listening to the BBC this week could be forgiven for thinking that the musician Bob ­Geldof had just emerged from Africa, like a ­latter-day Dr Livingstone, the first westerner with news of a deadly new virus. He and his makeshift band of celebrities have adopted Ebola, their song blazing from the radio while Geldof himself has been in every studio exhorting people, with his usual stream of expletives, to buy it.

Unless you have been in isolation for the past six months, the Band Aid single will not have raised your awareness of the disease one bit. Since the outbreak was first confirmed in Guinea on 22 March, many hours of news coverage had been broadcast and many millions raised to help the aid effort. Few have noted that diarrhoea has killed 73 times as many Africans as Ebola since the disease broke out. We can treat diarrhoea far more easily, though no celebrity  would sing a Christmas song about it.

The fear that Ebola might become a problem in the West seems to have focused minds here — and the Ebola response has been swift and considerable. The Disasters Emergency Committee, which has co-ordinated fund-raising for a number of medical charities, has raised £21 million in donations from British citizens. The Department for International Development, for once engaged in a worthwhile cause, has committed £230 million. A 90-bed field hospital has already opened in Freetown and more are being constructed. Fifty NHS volunteers will soon fly out to join charity workers who have been working in the field for months.

And now Bob Geldof walks into this international effort as a nostalgia act from the 1980s.

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