The United Kingdom passed a grisly milestone yesterday as official figures revealed over 100,000 people have died from coronavirus since the pandemic struck last March. Other figures indicate the death toll is much higher. Either way, it’s an awful statistic. That’s the fifth highest in the world and it is estimated it could reach 150,000 before we are past the peak. This is a nation that prides itself on having one of the best health services in the world. A health service now on its knees.
Yesterday the British Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, gave a press briefing where he maintained his government had done everything in its power to tackle the crisis. He was very reluctant to concede any mistakes had been made despite a furious reaction to this remark by large sections of the press and public. What about delayed lockdowns, failure to protect care homes, lack of personal protection equipment, not closing down borders, an inadequately resourced health service? The list went on and on.
I don’t envy the man his job and this post is not intended as a hatchet job on him or his government. The pressure must be incredible and he has worked incredibly long hours making huge decisions on a daily basis that impact the lives of millions. He was also struck down early in the pandemic and had to spend time in an intensive care unit. He later thanked the doctors and nurses who saved his life as heroes and named his newborn son after two of the doctors who cared for him.
We all make mistakes in life and hindsight is indeed an exact science. I’ve no doubt I’d have melted into a huge puddle of anxiety and stress had I been asked to handle the national response to such a massive and largely unexpected crisis. It would challenge the most confident and competent of minds. It has humbled us and many realise that, at the end of the day, our best laid plans mean nothing when the world decides otherwise. We are no longer so certain, so sure of anything. We have lost control.
Even the ridiculous minority who still maintain this is all a hoax cannot deny it has impacted their lives. What we all must realise is that none of us are infallible, we all make mistakes and must learn from them. It’s called life. Repeating the same errors over and over again is unacceptable, as is refusing to admit failings when they are staring you straight in the eye. Admitting you were wrong and taking positive steps to change requires courage. Even for a world leader.