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The Guardian view on Covid in 2022: new year, old pandemic | Editorial

The old year was a reality check for those who believed there was a simple answer to the coronavirus crisis. Don’t be surprised if the new one is the same

In the battle with Covid, the year 2021 has turned out to be a reality check. Misleading claims at the start of the pandemic in 2020 that lockdowns would suffice to “send coronavirus packing” were replaced, at the start of the year, by another simplistic conceit that vaccinations would accomplish the same goal, enabling economic activity and social life to resume at full power. It has not turned out that way.

An evolving and sometimes stop-start combination of national restrictions, individual behaviours and repeat vaccinations has kept the worst ravages under some control. Yet the spike in Omicron cases and this week’s preparation for new hospitalisations show that the crisis is very finely balanced. As we bid farewell to the old year on Friday, it ought to be clear to all but the most dogmatic ideologues that 2022 will not be a shining new virus-free era. It will be another volatile mixture, not quite the same as 2021, but not so very different either.

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