As the days get shorter and we huddle indoors, memories of 2020’s catastrophic winter are close at hand. Now a new surge of coronavirus cases is spreading across Europe. But as well as notes of caution, there are good reasons to hope that the UK will avoid the lows of last year – from lower hospitalisation rates to exciting treatments on the verge of approval. How optimistic should we be – and can we still go to Christmas parties?
“I am seeing the storm clouds gathering over parts of the European continent,” Boris Johnson said last week. “We have been here before and we remember what happens when a wave starts rolling in.”
The prime minister’s warning was full of foreboding for anybody who lived through last year’s winter – when a doggedly optimistic government refused to countenance imposing coronavirus restrictions over Christmas, only to be forced to reverse its position at the last minute. The move confirmed the seriousness of a long, grim second wave that proved even deadlier than the first – and fundamentally changed the way many of us thought about coronavirus, dispelling all hopes that we would soon be able to turn the page and go back to life as it was before.
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