Analysis: Is police chief right to question Government vaccine plan?

19 January 2021, 10:33

Dame Cressida Dick has said she is "baffled" Met Police officers aren&squot;t a higher priority for a vaccine
Dame Cressida Dick has said she is "baffled" Met Police officers aren't a higher priority for a vaccine. Picture: PA
Theo Usherwood

By Theo Usherwood

The calls for frontline police officers to receive priority when it comes to the vaccine are growing by the day.

But what sets Cressida Dick’s intervention apart is that she is calling for the police to be vaccinated from the middle of February, once everyone over-70, and front line health and social care workers, have been given their jab.

At the age of 60, the Commissioner is in cohort seven and going by the current plan will receive her invitation for a jab, sometime between the middle of next month and Easter. 

But she said she was “baffled” that she should receive her dose of the vaccine before frontline officers who, in her words, have to get up close and personal with members of the public, some of whom might of course be infected with Covid.

And whilst the Met has not suffered on the same scale as staff at Transport for London, it has lost three members of its workforce to the disease, including the tragic death of a PCSO only last week.

More broadly, the Commissioner’s comments raise questions about the Government’s vaccination strategy which has been focused on protecting lives.

If it vaccinates everyone over 70, the Government protects 88% of those most at risk of dying. Vaccinate everyone over 50, and all those clinically vulnerable, and the NHS will have protected 99% of the population at risk of death.

The point Cressida Dick is effectively making is that stretching the protection between the middle of February and Easter is perhaps the wrong strategy and that instead ministers should be focused on protecting frontline workers like the police, who whilst they may not die from the virus, are still at risk of becoming seriously ill and suffering from Long Covid for months afterwards which may well leave them unable to work.

She is perhaps the most senior public figure to question the approach being taken by the Government, and she will undoubtedly be the first of many, especially if the Prime Minister takes a cautionary approach post February 15th when it comes to reopening society and the economy.