THE great Theban play Odepus Rex opens with lines from the chorus elders speaking of “Great and dread pestilence sweeping the land”.

Go forward to 1346 and we have the Black Death – bubonic plague – the deadliest pandemic in world history with an estimated 75 million to 300 million deaths.

And a second carnation of bubonic plague, in the 17th century, with a 100,000 deaths in London, and other European cities.

And then we have the Spanish Flu Pandemic of 1918 infecting 500 million world-wide. Taking an estimated 17 to 100 million lives.

And now in UK, and world-wide, we are in meltdown and fear trying to work out how to deal with the latest world catastrophic pandemic with, to date, one million deaths.

The big decision facing all governments is then do we protect the most vulnerable, while leaving the virus to work through the general population? A matter of natural selection and building up herd immunity.

Or do we go for lockdown and quarantines? Try and safeguard all the population from infection, and hospitals from being overwhelmed. But then with huge damage to the economy and livelihoods. Millions ending up with no jobs.

No easy answers, but from the past eight months all I see is UK government in classic Janus mode – rowing in opposite directions at the same time.

We have lockdown in March, followed in May by “everyone get out and dine – half price on the government”. A call for lockdown and in near the same breath a call for everyone to get out in restaurants and pubs.

Then we have all manner of isolation, and keep your distance policies, with government in the same breath endorsing mass migration of a million hyper-socialising students back to university.

In turn bringing in lockdowns in some fifty cities.

In short, from this government, wildly varying policies. Contradicting one another. Changing by the day.

Surely we have to stick to one policy or the other. Let the virus sweep through the country and do our best to protect the vulnerable, as in Sweden. Or do proper lockdown until there is no virus, as in New Zealand.

These two counties with some of the best outcomes in the world – sticking to one policy.

Not Johnson’s Mix and Match – strident vacuous rhetoric – and hope for the best. For my money the worst of leaders, at the worst of times.


Jubilee Road, Poole