Is Rishi Sunak the most dangerous man in government? | Sam Bowman

A serial backer of attempts to ‘get back to normal’ during a deadly pandemic, the chancellor’s strategy threatens lives

The biggest threat now facing the country is from new variants of Covid that are resistant to our vaccines. It is already clear that this is possible: Novavax’s vaccine efficacy is 95.6% against the original Covid variant, 86% against the current UK variant, and only 60% against the South African variant, for example. If one emerges that is even more resistant, we could be back to square one.

This could happen overseas, which makes quarantines at the border essential for now. But for as long as Covid is spreading at home, new variants can emerge here too. We are, in effect, part-way through a course of antibiotics, where finishing prematurely after symptoms have disappeared could allow the infection to return in a new, more resistant form. In this case, returning to normal after the worst “symptoms” of Covid – mass hospitalisations and death – and not bothering to “finish the course” by wiping it out altogether would create precisely the conditions Covid would need to mutate into a form we cannot eradicate with our vaccines.

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