Phew. This is Christmas for another year. The main emotion I feel is relief. It’s not because the pressure has eased after weeks of building up, exhausting preparations, and spending, but rather because we did it despite the worst efforts of Covid doomsmongers.
Granted, my siblings in Spain and Italy were not able to be there with me, but I don’t think I’ll ever see them again. I was able to spend time with friends, who made me feel extremely welcome.
And, despite all odds, many other families managed to have a fairly normal Christmas.
Covid was more than an uninvited guest, glowering in the corner. He was more like the irritating uncle with the bad breath.
Phew. This is Christmas for another year. Relief is my main emotion. It’s not because the pressure has eased after so many weeks of building up, exhausting preparations, and costly expenditures.
In some ways it was a preview of what’s to come. The ghost of Covid is us all hiding in our houses, afraid of the virus which took too much of our lives, livelihoods, and liberties. However, it seems less doomsday.
Although it is worrying and still a major drain of resources, this is far from the howling terror that overtook us last year.
While we still have not conquered the disease completely, we are making steady progress against it. And while there will inevitably be setbacks, there is a definite sense that the tide is turning — not just in terms of vaccinations and boosters; or of treatment protocols; but also as far as our own response to the threat is concerned.
We were like rabbits in the headlights last Christmas, confused and afraid of science, and too scared to trust our instincts.
Although we haven’t yet defeated this disease, we are making progress. There will be setbacks but there is an underlying sense of a turning tide.
It has been a very different Christmas. Omicron’s rise was evident, so many people had to rein in their plans, cancel parties and simplify the planning. It didn’t stop us.
We found solutions. Based on their particular circumstances, they used their common sense.
My friends were among those who took their own lives in order to not ruin any plans. Many of my friends tested themselves every day; others continued as normal, not knowing that they were three-jabbed or willing to take the chance of getting infected for some festive fun.
Almost everyone I knew tested positive at some point — yet no one felt seriously ill, despite most of my friends being over 50.
The point is, the spirit of Covid present is nowhere near as scary as Covid past — you are up to 70 per cent less likely to need medical care; and 45 per cent less likely to land up in hospital.
The boosters offer at least 85% protection from serious illnesses; almost all of the 32 million people have had one.
The risk of being admitted to hospital by Omicron patients is further reduced by the use of antiviral medications (molnupiravir was decreased by 30%, sotrovimab decreases by 79%), 14 of which were killed. This is 14 more than necessary. However, it is a better picture than what we saw last year.
Those terrible times are still with us, however. We think of Derek Draper who was seen returning from a pantomime this week, but is still in a wheelchair and his wife Kate Garraway uncertain whether he will ever fully recover.
The Christmas of this year has felt quite different. Many people reorganized their plans, cancelled parties, and canceled events once Omicron became apparent. We didn’t allow it to stop us
This year, the Queen said farewell to her “familiar laughter” and was left alone. She is remembered for her presence at St George’s Chapel in Windsor as an example of how many people have been through. Is there a monarch who has shown such empathy with his people during times of crisis like the Queen?
Yet, despite the pain of losing loved ones, Covid’s future is so brighter than we ever imagined.
Each victory against the virus is a step closer to restoring our lives, and ultimately learning to live with it.
We are beginning to regain control, in a way that is almost poetic. It feels good.
The Prime Minister’s decisions over the coming days will be crucial. Unless the numbers post-Christmas go completely bonkers, it seems unlikely he will recall Parliament — and that is a good thing. He must go even further. Boris Johnson has to lead the charge in a major shift in Government’s reaction to Covid.
There are two options: treat us as children, or give back our autonomy and freedoms. Alternatively, trust in the British common-sense to make right choices when required.
The boosters offer at least 85% protection from serious illnesses; almost all of the population (32.2 million) have had them.
The second option is not just the right decision for the country as a whole — our economy, our sanity, our overall health. Let’s not forget the missed referrals to suspected cancer in the pandemic. Some fear that the number could reach 740,000.
Johnson is also making the right decision by choosing it.
Because they didn’t vote for this Conservative Prime Minster with an overwhelming 80-seat majority, the voters did not elect him.
Johnson was a man they believed in for his invincible optimism. Johnson was an example of someone who saw the potential in a situation and not the limitations. He was a man who loved life and didn’t let it be weighed down by the pitfalls of his timidity.
His enthusiasm has become almost inexplicable, sometimes recklessly but often very infectious. Scrooge is almost as depressed as he has been, and a Prime Minister has let the Covid spectre dominate almost every aspect of his premiership.
We think of Derek Draper who was seen returning from a pantomime this week, but is still in a wheelchair. Kate Garraway, Derek’s wife, remains uncertain whether he will ever fully recover.
If he does not act soon, voters will forever associate him with the worst period in American history.
It is possible to make a difference. It is possible to turn the tide if he can regain faith in human creativity. Boris is a natural born leader. He lifted lockdown during Freedom Day this summer against Sage’s advice. He must now overrule these shroud-wavers once more and place his trust in individual ability to manage Covid’s risk sensibly and responsibly.
Leadership doesn’t mean following the path of least resistance or choosing the best course of action. Johnson’s hero Churchill demonstrated that leadership is not about being able to make difficult decisions in unfavorable circumstances. It is also about having the courage to stand by your convictions.
It would not be risky to place further restrictions over the next few weeks. It would be brave to argue for liberty and say that Omicron’s mild symptoms and boosters make it less likely that restrictions should be imposed in the future.
It seems that I have an idea of what the British Bulldog would do. Let’s hope Boris makes a decision.