As tidal wave of Omicron threatens to drown us, our record on Covid risks becoming world-beatingly terrible

REMEMBER our “world-beating” jab rollout? Neither do I.

For a country whose regulators were first over the line in approving a Covid-19 vaccine, we — and by “we”, I mean Boris Johnson and Co — have let complacency creep in.

As the “tidal wave” of Omicron threatens to drown us all, our record on this killer virus risks becoming only world-beatingly terrible.

The past few days have seen non-stop background chatter around cheese-and-wine parties and the world’s most boring Zoom pub quiz.

It is white noise.

The real issue is not Boris’ constant muddling.

It isn’t about brie and crackers, or whether Boris was socially distanced when he asked his tinsel-wearing colleagues if they could name the capital of Peru.

It’s about how his Government managed to lose their grip on this pandemic through sheer, bloody-minded arrogance.

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In August, 75 per cent of Brits were double jabbed — more than in any EU country.

The Government hailed both Brexit and their own general brilliance for reaching the milestone.

Yet three months later, thanks to foot-dragging and indecision, we’ve had one confirmed death with Omicron (and counting), hospital wards are filling up, lateral flow tests ran out yesterday and people are waiting five hours to get their vaccine top-up.

With the NHS website crashing, the UK yesterday reported 1,576 new Omicron cases — up 50 per cent in a day.

Three months ago, Dr Maggie Wearmouth, of independent advisory body the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation, warned the vaccine rollout could be suffering from “loss of focus” in reaching younger people, ethnic minorities and deprived communities.

She was right.

Since then the Government have wilfully ignored countless warnings from Europe and across the world.

Last night a message on the Government website said there were “no more home test kits available right now”, breezily telling us to “try again later”.

How very Little Britain. “Computer says no.”

The Government have lurched from one crisis to another, flinging out a few platitudes and headline-friendly slogans along the way.

SHATTERED REPUTATION

But nothing of any real substance.

Obviously we should cut Boris — who nearly died from the virus — a bit of slack for leading the country in such “unprecedented” times, as he likes to remind us.

But this is a man who waited 74 days after China first declared coronavirus to the WHO to go into lockdown.

A man who proudly “shook hands with everyone” as the virus first rampaged.

A man who endorsed herd immunity, skipped five successive Cobra meetings, advised hand-washing even as his Health Secretary licked his mistress’s face, encouraged thousands of international horse-racing fans to mingle at the Cheltenham festival, allowed people into the country unchecked, shut pubs and restaurants before ordering us to “eat out to help out”, told NHS workers to wear less of the PPE he had failed to order and, as one writer put it, “sent coronavirus-ridden patients back to the Petri dishes of their care homes”.

Our £37billion Test And Trace scheme was shambolic.

Boris is now throwing everything he’s got at Omicron.

But by focusing on cheese and festive bashes from a year ago we are losing sight of what matters now.

Boris can still repair his shattered reputation.

He CAN — just about — restore our collective faith by cracking on, not wasting precious hours investigating cheese and crackers.

Now is the time to act. To look to the future — not the port-stained past.

Big problem? Just get back in the saddle

SPOILER alert

To paraphrase Oscar Wilde, there is only one thing worse than being talked about – and that’s not being talked about.

Then again, Oscar never rode a Peloton bike.


The billion-pound fitness company, beloved of celebs and the civil service, saw its share price plummet after the widely hyped Sex And The City reboot showed central male character Mr Big riding one of its exercise bikes . . .  and promptly having a heart attack. Before dying.

As bad PR goes, it doesn’t get much worse.

But in a move worthy of the show’s public relations guru Samantha Jones, yesterday Peloton hit back.

The scrambling firm released a video showing Big back from the dead, on a romantic getaway with his favourite Peloton instructor.

Hollywood actor Ryan Reynolds’ voiceover continues: “And just like that . . . the world is reminded that regular cycling stimulates and improves your heart, lungs and circulation, reducing your risk of cardio- vascular diseases.

"Cycling strengthens your heart muscles, resting pulse and reduces blood-fat levels.”

Genius. And it will probably stop Mum making my 73-year-old father – post-quintuple heart bypass – flog his own Peloton.

What a mug

LIKE most people, I now do 90 per cent of my Christmas shopping online.

Partly through laziness, partly because pulling my mask on and off as I cross every artificially lit threshold is such a faff.

But what a mug I am – merrily spending an extra £57 to “save” £3.50 on postage. Every. Single. Time.

A kindness is still a kindness

THERE was uproar from certain right-wing camps after footie clubs across the country stopped to pay tribute to tragically murdered Arthur Labinjo-Hughes.

Fans and players united in clapping the six-year-old Birmingham City fan, horrifically abused and killed by his evil dad and step-mum.

But not everyone saw it as a kind, thoughtful gesture uniting a horrified nation in grief.

Instead, one commentator branded the move “shameless virtue-signalling by a venal, amoral industry which insists on clambering aboard every passing bandwagon”.

Nonsense. A kindness is still a kindness, whatever the motive.

And if the gesture helped Arthur’s grandparents, his family and school friends, who are we to knock it?

Learn from real work

KIDS, want to “have it all”? Money. Influence. Endless holidays. Fixed hours. And a delightful work-life balance.

Easy! Become a civil servant.

A whistleblower has detailed the Government’s shambolic response to the evacuation from Kabul.

In a damning dossier, he reveals Foreign Office officials refused to come into the office and wouldn’t do overtime, while thousands of pleading emails were opened but ignored so Boris Johnson could tell MPs there were no “unread” emails.

This comes off the back of then-Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab continuing to work from his five-star Cretan hotel sun lounger and top mandarin Sir Philip Barton staying on holiday for an extra 11 days rather than coming back to aid those desperately trying to flee the Taliban.

Doctors and nurses working throughout the pandemic didn’t clock off after popping someone on a ventilator because their shift was up.

Delivery drivers didn’t stop delivering, teachers stop teaching or supermarket workers stop scanning loo roll because they couldn’t be arsed.

If you want a nine-to-five job, go and work at Zara.

Lifers let off

SCORES of criminals – rapists, paedophiles, murderers – have been given second life sentences for repeat offences.

In the past decade, 129 prisoners originally jailed “for life” have reoffended – some while in jail, others released and allowed to kill, maim, steal, abuse or deal drugs again.

How has the Parole Board – which recently released child killer Colin Pitchfork before his recall to jail, and decided black-cab rapist John Worboys was suitable for release – not learned any lessons?

And what part of “life” doesn’t mean life?

Bring back Oz

I’M A Celebrity finally put us all out of our misery on Sunday night.

Some bloke from Emmerdale won – beating Corrie’s Steve McDonald and the pretty one from The Saturdays.

The show has been filled with cold, dank, wet misery from start to finish. ITV bosses deserve praise for doing their best . . . but, please, no more Wales.

We want escapism from our winter telly.

Not 78-year–old Arlene Phillips shivering; poor, stricken Richard Madeley whisked to hospital at 4am; and the aforementioned Frankie Bridge lying in a coffin for ten bleak minutes.

Bring back Oz.

Wake up, wokes

ABSOLUTELY no one wants a lesson in morality from their advent calendar.

But the marketing boffins at posh chocolate company Tony’s decided, in their infinite woke wisdom, to leave a window blank to “highlight inequality and slave labour practices of unscrupulous firms in the chocolate manufacturing process”.

Try telling that to a hungry, excitable seven-year-old. Who shall for ever now stay loyal to Cadbury.

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