Instant Opinion

‘Booster jabs are like handing out extra lifejackets to people who already have lifejackets’

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

1

Charlotte Summers in The Guardian

Giving booster shots before the world is vaccinated won’t keep the UK safe from Covid

on jab inequality

A World Health Organization official has likened plans for administering booster jabs to handing out “extra lifejackets to people who already have lifejackets, while… leaving other people to drown without a single lifejacket”, Charlotte Summers wrote in The Guardian. Dr Summers, a lecturer in intensive care medicine at the University of Cambridge, pointed out that in the UK, more than 88% of the public have had at least one dose of a Covid vaccine, yet in low-income countries just 2% of adults had received one or more doses. This “unequal situation” is “in nobody’s interests” because “high levels of transmission make it more likely that new variants may emerge that evade the protection of our current vaccines”, she added. “Vaccinating as many people as quickly as possible is a far better strategy than vaccinating a small group of people repeatedly.”

2

Razib Khan on Unherd

How the neocons got away with it

on the legacy of war

After hundreds of thousands of deaths were caused by the West’s wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, “none of the instigators or cheerleaders for this disaster has suffered any career or reputational loss for their hubris or misjudgment, and almost no one has ever expressed regret”, wrote Razib Khan on Unherd. “The pundits and politicians whose blunders in the early 2000s had grave consequences for nations far away suffered few ill consequences for their disastrous prognostications, short-sighted decisions and uninformed arguments.” And why? Because, argued Khan, their “sinecures are ultimately yoked to the whims of domestic politics, not the horrors that American enthusiasms unleashed abroad”. Alluding to the recent US withdrawal from Afghanistan, Khan said Washington is “ruled by a soft and complacent aristocracy of error in 2021, just as it was in 2001 on the eve of the 9/11 terror attack”. In that sense, he concluded, 9/11 “was a day that changed nothing”.

3

Caroline Lucas in The Independent

The Elections Bill is a dangerous assault on our democracy – ID laws will block the poor from voting

on voting reform

Caroline Lucas invited readers to “imagine an electoral system specifically designed to exclude those who might not vote for the governing party”, because “that is the system this government is trying to create”. The former leader of the Green Party said the Elections Bill, which has its second reading today, is “an attack on the UK’s democratic traditions and on some of our most fundamental rights”. If the bill is passed, it will be “more difficult to vote in a parish election than it will be to set up a network of shell companies at Companies House”, she added. The government’s “enthusiasm for voter ID” is because “the estimated 3.5 million people who don’t have photo ID are more likely to be poorer, come from marginalised groups, be unemployed, live in social housing or have insecure accommodation. Hardly the profile of the typical Tory voter.”

4

Jonathan Miller in The Spectator

Macron is terrible. Nobody can beat him

on the French election

Describing the En Marche party leader as a “pitiful president”, Jonathan Miller took Emmanuel Macron’s record in office to pieces in The Spectator, mourning the “chasm between his extravagant promises and measurable performance”. Macron, he argued, has failed on Covid, on law and order, as well as unemployment. But just over 200 days from the first round of next year’s presidential poll, Miller said that “Macron’s opposition is in a worse state than the President himself”, with the state of the French right a “particularly comforting spectacle for the incumbent president”. The coronavirus pandemic has in fact been convenient for Macron because it has “concentrated unprecedented power in the Elysee”, he added. Therefore, “far from defeating Macron, Covid might still save him”.

5

Martha Gill in The Times

Like it or not, we must embrace lab-grown meat

on a cleaner diet

In 1932 Winston Churchill predicted that “50 years hence, we shall escape the absurdity of growing a whole chicken in order to eat the breast or wing by growing these parts separately under a suitable medium”, wrote Martha Gill in The Times. And with lab-grown meat appearing on the market and an Israeli firm discovering how to 3D-print a rib-eye steak, she argued that these forms of meat are lucrative and environmentally beneficial. Everyone from vegans, to advocates of “local, holistic farming” and “disgusted” meat eaters seem to be sceptical of clean meat. But Gill believes the public will “embrace” it. “Eating a sausage involves blocking thoughts of battery farms, dirty abattoirs and hoofs in grinders.” So “images of darkly floating cells” in labs may be blocked out one day too.

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