After one u-turn, is Johnson preparing another?
It was Johnson’s turn to take the Government’s Covid-19 “Daily Show” on Tuesday. And clearly the job at hand was “bury the bad news” - this time, April’s employment and GDP figures from the Office for National Statistics.
So suddenly Johnson was agreeing with footballer Marcus Rashford. And he could hardly wait to announce how “British scientists, backed by UK Government funding” had led “the first robust clinical trial anywhere in the world to find a coronavirus treatment proven to reduce the risk of death”. And it’s incredibly “cheap”!
This story was repeated by all and sundry without question. Sure, it was admitted that the treatment, dexamethasone, is already used routinely in intensive care, when patients are very sick... They didn’t explain that similar corticosteroid drugs had already been shown to reduce deaths of Covid-19 patients on ventilators - and even by as much as 62%! But those studies were conducted... in China! So they are discounted, of course!
Anyway, this “discovery” has certainly allowed Johnson to “celebrate a great, British achievement”. And the hand-picked scientists who made this announcement alongside Johnson, were willing accomplices in this questionable “exaggeration”.
So what about the bad news which Johnson was hiding? ONS figures showed the economy had shrunk by 20.4% in April alone. And it registered the “sharpest fall in hours worked on record”!
In fact by now, 2 months later, with job cuts announced daily, and many more on the cards when the furlough scheme ends, unemployment and poverty are highly likely to hit levels not seen since the 1930s (even before Brexit is “done”!).
Egged on by calls from Tory “Lord” Hague and an array of backbench Tory MPs, bosses want an end to 2m distancing, quarantine and the lockdown! Never mind the over 4,000 new C-19 infections still occurring every day, in the absence of effective treatment(!), vaccine, or testing and the current mass gatherings in shopping malls, on public transport, and in workplaces, which threaten a 2nd spike...
Johnson claims he will not end distancing measures before 4 July. But already, de facto, many measures are disregarded. And no doubt he will find a way to appease those for whom money-making trumps “saving lives”.