Boris Johnson does not leave an opportunity unused to refer to the new variation of the COVID-19 virus as the single root cause of the current developments in the United Kingdom, immediately followed by appraisal for his own actions, of course. Since Boris Johnson has a track record of bending facts to his liking, like for example when he claimed that no other country in the world had a functioning Contact Tracing APP when more than 20 countries had already launched such APP, including Germany and Australia, let us have a closer look at the data and facts. And most of all, let us see if Boris Johnson is bending the facts according to his liking, again.
This variant of COVID-19 is known as B.1.1.7 or 20B/501Y.V1 and is indeed a mutation of the original COVID-19 strain. The part which is not correct about Boris Johnson’s recurring statements is that this would be new or only known since December. This variant was first detected in the United Kingdom in September of 2020, and confirmed by multiple sources during that same months, including German scientists. During October and November of 2020, several specialized institutions including British virologists reported increased relative reproduction numbers for this variation.
Throughout November, Public Health England investigated why the infection rate in and around Kent did not reduce despite ongoing restrictions in England, a.k.a. Lockdown2, and already concluded that this is related to the new variant which by then was already spreading rapidly to London and Essex. Behavioral Scientist also found another influence factor. Kent and London have the highest number of ‘Boris Johnson Fans’ and ‘Nigel Farage Fans’, both vivid anti-lockdown and anti-restrictions campaigners, and both terribly good at bending facts to their likings.
Farage openly ranting against lockdown and every kind of restrictions and cheering to keep business going as the top priority, no matter what, and Johnson basically doing the same in his well-known rhetoric as if he is still campaigning, lead to the lowest level of support for restrictions and lockdown in the regions where they have the highest levels of support. Coincidence?
During the second limited lockdown for England which started on November 5th, his own fanbase was the loudest in protesting it, despite it not even being a real lockdown. Once again, a halfhearted measure by Boris Johnson which was initiated too late and was as always not enough. Too late, because the United Kingdom under Boris Johnson had already reached 10,000 new infections per day in the beginning of October, a threshold Boris Johnson had determined earlier as the trigger for direct and strict measures and restrictions. Boris Johnson did not respond until the UK had to deal with 20,000 new infections per day. By that time, the United Kingdom was already dealing with more than 300 deaths per day, every single day!
Data shows that roughly 2 weeks into the Limited Lockdown for England, the number of new infections started to decline. All the way down to less than 15,000 new infections per day. Data would suggest that Boris Johnson might finally understand that this was the way to go in the interest of the population of the United Kingdom. Despite not being his personal preference and not what his buddies in the conservative establishment want but definitely what is best for those suffering under the pandemic: the Britons!
It would have been nice and all data from all countries that responded based on science and facts make clear that it would have had a very positive impact on the spread of the virus and the death toll. Not Boris Johnson. Even during the Limited Lockdown for England, Boris Johnson already campaigned for lifting the restrictions and set a date for it long before the first positive impact was seen. Alarming information from his own experts and PHE, not even alerts from NHS leaders about the ongoing situation could stop Boris Johnson.
He celebrated his decision to lift the restrictions on December 4th as if it was some kind of achievement. On that day, the United Kingdom still registered 14,507 new infections and 438 new deaths. Both far beyond the thresholds Boris Johnson had set previously. Both far beyond any logical consideration to even consider lifting the very limited restrictions.
What happened prior to and directly after the restrictions should not be much of a surprise. People take every opportunity to do all the things which will be prohibited during the restrictions in the days before these go into effect. And once the restrictions are lifted again, they will burst into doing everything they could not do. During a pandemic, that means they expose themselves to the virus and the data shows they did in masses.
It is not too difficult to understand that a virus can only replicate beyond control in a population which is unrestricted in their interactions with others. There is no doubt that variation B.1.1.7 or 20B/501Y.V1 is able to reproduce faster. There is also no doubt that Boris Johnson created the environment to do so!