LBC Views: If Omicron resists the vaccine, Ministers have flexibility to go much further

29 November 2021, 16:52 | Updated: 29 November 2021, 17:12

LBC Political Editor Theo Usherwood gives his view
LBC Political Editor Theo Usherwood gives his view. Picture: LBC
Theo Usherwood

By Theo Usherwood

Ever since the so-called Freedom Day back in July, the Government has consistently resisted attempts to take country back into lockdown.

However bumpy things got at the start of the autumn, the line remained the same: the only development that could tip us over from Plan A to Plan B – which would see the re-introduction of working from home, and the introduction of vaccine passports - would be the emergence of a new variant that is resistant to the vaccine.

With the discovery of the Omicron variant that point has now become a possibility, as reports from South Africa suggest that it is more resistant to the vaccine than other variants.

As Number 10 admits, it has a number of “concerning characteristics”.

But for now, the view is that there is no need to go in too hard with non-pharmaceutical measures – hence the decision to limit the mandatory wearing of face-coverings to shops and all public transport.

And these measures are only in place for three weeks as scientists gather more information and data about Omicron.

That delayed response of course cuts both ways: if it’s not as bad as first feared – as some health professionals in South Africa are insisting – then it will be possible to roll back the measures.

But if Omicron does resist the vaccine, and we find double-jabbed, even triple-jabbed Covid sufferers in hospital, then ministers retain the flexibility to go much further, and much faster.

And all just in time for Christmas, which of course carries its own political risks for the Prime Minister Boris Johnson, given the view being formed amongst some on the Conservative backbenches that the Government is already over-reacting.