Instant Opinion

‘The EU vaccine rollout has been so bad that lives have been lost’

Your digest of analysis and commentary from the British and international press


Bruno Waterfield in The Times

The EU’s risk aversion cost thousands of lives

on vaccine caution

“The European Union’s vaccine debacle is a cautionary tale about the perils of risk aversion”, writes Bruno Waterfield in The Times. “What’s clear is that the EU is unable to assess risk rationally and is too bureaucratically rigid to respond to fast-moving events.” The bloc’s inability to roll out the jab quickly has “been so bad that it is certain lives have been lost” as a “risk-averse institution managed to focus on entirely the wrong risks”. The EU’s vaccine campaign also has “big implications for the future of Britain’s post-Brexit relationship with the EU”, he adds. After all, “given the events of the last two months, would Britain want to align itself with the EU’s political culture of risk aversion”?


Leo Cendrowicz in The Guardian

An EU ban on vaccine exports would make its wretched rollout take longer still

on vaccine nationalism

It is easy to understand “the context for the European Commission’s plans to curb vaccine exports, targeting companies and countries that officials say are not playing fair”, says Leo Cendrowicz in The Guardian. “It rests on an understandable exasperation about the state of the vaccine rollout and a sense that Europeans are being played by devious countries.” But in reality, the move to ban exports would “be a ham-fisted response to an already wretched predicament”. “The EU has been complacent, but it should also own its missteps and find better ways to redress the situation,” he adds. “An export ban may at best gain about a week for the EU, but at worst, it would spark a tit-for-tat retaliation, hurting everyone.”


Patrick O’Flynn in The Telegraph

Why do the English metropolitan Left have such disdain for the Union Flag?

on patriotic symbols

“Let’s be clear about one thing straight away”, says Patrick O’Flynn in The Telegraph. “There is nothing intrinsically right-wing about national flags.” So given that, “what accounts for the oddly triggering effect caused among sections of the British Left by the St George’s Cross and the Union Flag”? National flags “carry a powerful message about mutual obligation and the ties that bind us together in one society which should appeal to communitarian impulses”. Meanwhile, rejecting the flag is a symbol of “political rejection of Britain’s history and heritage and the belief that this country should be ashamed of both”. “Mercifully”, this view is “pretty rare in wider society”, he adds. But progressives seem keen to “draw a dividing line across the electorate” and put their “tribe on the wrong side of it”.


Cathy Newman in The Independent

The Home Office is getting worse at managing the asylum system – and only has itself to blame

on a broken system

Priti Patel’s immigration overhaul raises the question that “if the system is broken, why has it taken the Tories the intervening 11 years to attempt to fix it?”, writes Cathy Newman in The Independent. Since the Tories came to power in the 2010 coalition government, “the Home Office seems to have got worse at managing the problem” of illegal immigration. “Ten years ago, there were almost 42,000 returns and removals of asylum seekers”, she says. “In 2019, that had fallen to just over 19,000.” “The broken asylum system is just one of many, many problems neither Johnson nor his predecessor could have foreseen”, she adds. “And what’s the betting Patel will be reshuffled out of the Home Office before the necessary repairs are carried out?”


Koichi Nakano in The New York Times

The Olympics are on! But why?

on pandemic problems

“Last week, Japan announced that spectators from overseas would be barred from attending the Games”, says Koichi Nakano in The New York Times. But the decision, possibly a “concession to public opinion” amid objections about foreign travellers by Japanese voters, raises a far larger question: “Why is Japan going ahead with the Olympics, against the public’s objections, while the pandemic is still a major public health concern?” The answer, Nakano suggests, is “familiar”, namely it is a result of “collusion among the elites”. Japan’s most powerful politicians have decided that they back the games, meaning that if they go ahead as planned, it “will be a feat of entrenched collusion among Japan’s political and media elites”.


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