For Britain and Boris Johnson, 2021 begins with a new Kovid challenge

LONDON – On New Year’s Eve, Boris Johnson called to reassure Britons that he was told in a national broadcast address that he believed 2021 would be “a return to the everyday things now in the past Looks lost. ” Then on Monday, the Prime Minister again took the airplanes, imposing a new lockdown as a rapid increase in Kovid infections, which threatens to affect the healthcare system.

Mr. Johnson faces a difficult and politically precarious-balancing act, as he and his advisers seek to weigh public-health risks against economic pain while maintaining the support of epidemic-weary voters. The Prime Minister has faced criticism from those who say he is doing too little late and those who complain that they have gone too far with sanctions and are severely damaging the economy.

In an attempt to chart a middle course, Mr. Johnson spent weeks publicly going back against calls for strict lockdown measures advocated by scientific advisors, before he was quickly seen to be spreading rapidly to countries and hospitals Decide to adopt a new and more contagious version of the virus. He was full of sick people.

During his tenure at Downing Street, Mr. Johnson often waited until the last minute to make a high-stakes decision and use his political temperament to sell him. That approach paid off on Brexit to unify its Conservative Party and reach a new trade agreement with the European Union.

But critics say that it has served him poorly in dealing with the virus, resulting in unnecessary delays, more disruption and public confusion. Britain, which has recorded more than 75,000 deaths from Kovid, is on track to have the worst mortality rate in Europe. It has also faced one of the biggest contractions in economic output. At the end of the third quarter the economy was 8.6% smaller than a year earlier, a larger drop in production than in France, Germany or Italy.

Westminster Bridge in London was quiet on Tuesday after the new ban was imposed by Mr Johnson.


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Over the past year, Mr. Johnson’s government has considered creating a relatively hands-off course for a series of interventions of varying rigor. Other policy changes have also occurred, ranging from dismissing masks to supporting them, from subsidizing restaurant meals to dining out, and increasing and reducing the number of people allowed to social functions.

Government officials say the epidemic strategy was refined as the virus improved its understanding. Through all of this, Mr. Johnson has repeatedly stated that lockdown should be used with restraint and as a last resort, pointing out the human costs involved.

Mr Johnson’s public acceptance of dealing with the crisis has been revoked as policy changes begin. Currently, 36% of Britons approve of the government’s handling of the epidemic, down from 72% in the spring, according to YouGov. However, it is clear that at least Breton supports heavy sanctions, at least with the aim of curbing the spread of the virus. A Savita Comeco poll showed on Tuesday that 79% of the UK supported the lockout.

The next few months will be important for the Prime Minister, the House of Lords’ patron member and pollster told Robert Hayward. The British government has placed large bets on vaccines, approving them – and aiming to deploy them – faster than any other Western nation.

Mr. Johnson has promised to vaccinate 13 million Britons with the virus by mid-February to pave the way for the end of the epidemic. The economic impact of the trade deal with the European Union last month will be felt in Britain.

“Decisions will be made at that level,” Mr. Hayward said. “When the fist clears.”

It would be difficult for Mr. Johnson to avoid blame for any deficiencies. Unlike the US, under the UK’s centralized system of government, the Prime Minister is responsible for the implementation of the nationalized healthcare system and lockdown rules throughout England.

Restrictions have been insisted on the removal of a small but vocal libertarian group of Conservative MPs. Partly in his response, Mr Johnson has tried to keep the economy open to avoid the most draconian sanctions and to provide £ 22 billion, the equivalent of $ 30 billion dollars, to fund the test and trace system. Performed very poorly.

The shock setback for Mr Johnson is Brexit. During the 2019 election he acquired a new blue-collar Brexit support base which has proved loyal till now. “They are essentially ready to stand with Johnson despite his handling of specific issues,” said Matthew Goodwin, a politics professor at the University of Kent. Whether or not they persist will depend on how Mr Johnson revives Kovid and Brexit in the post-industrial regions of the country.

The UK became the first Western country to vaccinate patients against Kovid-19. The WSJ describes how the country plans to roll out the BioNotech-Pfizer vaccine at a record pace, making it a test case for the rest of the world. Photo: Jacob King / Press Pool (originally published December 8, 2020)

Presently, conservatives remain at the level or slightly ahead of the opposition Labor Party in some elections. And Mr. Johnson can be an inspiring politician.

“He is a fascinating audience expert who might have been offended by him,” said Professor Matthew Flinders of the University of Sheffield. “So, no, my understanding is that he won’t take a huge hit.” And the next election is four years away.

Nevertheless, the last few weeks have been particularly turbulent. The discovery of a new version of the virus in southern England, which scientists say is up to 70% more permeable, indicated doubling the infection rate at the end of December, combined with government restrictions at some locations over Christmas. Data released on Tuesday showed that one in 50 people in England had the virus in early January.

Mr. Johnson introduced a three-tier system of sanctions in October in an effort to stem caseloads while restricting restrictions on the economy. As matters progressed, he ordered a four-week lockout in England on 5 November.

One of the 50 people in England had coronovirus in early January. A store in Thurrock outside London on Tuesday.


daniel leal-olivas / Agence France-Presse / Getty Images

According to a gauge measuring the rigor of public-health measures developed by the University of Oxford, during the first wave of the Kovid-19 outbreak, the lockdown in November was slightly less restrictive than the lockdown imposed in the spring. This gauge puts the stiffness of the November lockdown at 75 on a 100-point scale, compared to near 80 in March and April.

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The second lockdown Google unit shows could not prevent people from traveling as before, which hastened the proliferation of variants.

For example, in London and Kent, two locations where the new version has gained momentum, according to Google’s data, stores’ visits in April were down to about 80% to 90% below their pre-pandemic standard. In November, the number of such visits was down from around 60% to 70%.

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Scientists at Imperial College London have said in an online study on 31 December that their research suggests that the lockdown measures in November were sufficient to control older variants of coronaviruses, but not the more-infectious versions.

Despite the worrisome trends emerging over Christmas, Mr. Johnson appeared on a chat show on Sunday, cautioning images of scientific advisors and ambulances outside hospitals and advocating for elementary school children to return to school on Monday.

On Monday, Mr Johnson visited a hospital to celebrate being the UK’s first country to roll-out new vaccines developed by AstraZeneca PLC and Oxford University. He indicated that more restrictions were to come. By that evening, the allies were preparing their address to the nation: a new lockout was to take place and schools would be closed.

“The weeks ahead will be the toughest yet but I truly believe that we are entering the final phase of the conflict,” Mr Johnson said.

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