In theory, the vaccine will be ready by the end of the year. It will go to the NHS workers first, then to vulnerable people, then to the wider population. It will take some time to get round to everyone but, by the start of summer 2021, everything is back to normal. House parties, gigs and festivals can all start again.
This is the vision that was laid out by the government at the briefing I watched last week. But this is a group that has been wrong about almost every prediction. They were wrong at the very start of 2020, when they said that coronavirus was a minor issue that did not merit closing airports or cancelling large events. They were wrong when they said they said that twelve weeks would get everything back to normal. They have made unnecessary errors at every stage, such as the care home scandal, failures with track and trace, and then they make ridiculous announcements about moonshots to distract from these errors.
The government’s vaccine vision certainly saves them from the hard work of setting up proper testing, tracing and quarantining. It’s also quite a fragile thing to be basing our entire future on. There are things that could go wrong with this, and then normality is pushed back another year.
When the pandemic started, I figured the lockdown could go on for maybe 10 weeks. I prepared myself for three months of this, just in case. In parts of the summer I felt becalmed, unsure what I was supposed to be doing.
I’m now settling into hibernation for the winter. I feel good about this, as I have things to work on and to practise. I’m happy enough for now, but I don’t want to make the same mistake I made this summer, of expecting things to get back to normal at a particular point. Which makes me think about 2021. What if this goes on throughout that year, and even into 2022? What does life look like under a prolonged pandemic? How do I keep my spirits up and my enthusiasms alive if this does go on for years?
It’s not that I think I can’t, or that this is likely to go on into 2022. But answering the question ‘What if this lasts forever’ makes it easier to deal with shorter periods of time. How should we enjoy life and thrive with these new limits?