Like most of the country, we've been following the ups and downs of the pandemic, the infection and death counts and vaccination program with morbid interest over the last fourteen months. I remember the early days, going to the Good Earth for a Valentines lunch, where the owner, who has been a friend for many years, told us that people had cancelled due to the 'Wuhan virus'. We had a chuckle with him at the time, none of us expected that within a month, the pandemic would be on the verge of shutting the UK down. From being an obscure news story on the other side of the world, within two months, it would have killed my favourite auntie, a good friends daughter and a long time studio customer and friend. That is the thing about highly infectious diseases, they are highly infectious. This one has mutated several times, becoming more infectious and more resistant to vaccines. In Barnet the signs are very positive. However we are one mutation away from being back to square one, if a vaccine resistant strain emerges. The best thing we can do is suppress the virus globally as strongly as possible.
There are arguments as to how best to do this. Vaccines are clearly the best way. Developed nations should make giving vaccines to the poorer areas of the world a priority. The more people who are infected, the higher the probability of new variants emerging that will set us back. There is also the spectre of more deadly variants.
The anti vaxxer/covid denying lobby are pushing Boris hard to damn the science and open up. I am not quite sure what these people expect if the government followed their gameplan. It seems to me, from some conversations, that they believe that had we had no lockdowns and no vaccination program, we'd have had no deaths and everything would be marvellous. Many of them believe that the virus doesn't exist, or that it is harmless and the government has pulled a sleight of hand to con us. Anyone who refuses to believe these absurd claims are labelled 'sheeple' and told we've been conned. Sadly, for them at least, their evidence does not stand up to scrutiny. You would think that the suppression of the virus death rate would be evidence enough, but these strange people believe that viruses magically disappear of their own accord when they get bored.
The truth is that a virus has exactly the same mission as any other life form. To reproduce and survive. to do this, it has to be passed on. This is why viruses will always evolve to become more infectious. It is there best chance of survival. It also means that they must mutate, as this is their only weapon in their fight against our immune system. Understanding these facts can only lead to one conclusion. We are not out of the woods yet.
Now I hope that we've seen the last of lockdowns and all the strain that goes with it. My business has just about survived the shock. Our finances are not in the robustly strong shape they were last March, but we are OK. Many in the music industry are not. Many have taken on other jobs to pay the bills. Many are very wary of restarting their music career as they have bills to pay. Festivals cannot get insurance and freelance back up crew have been especially hard hit. Whilst we all crave a full opening up, nothing is more damaging than opening up then slamming on the brakes. This just makes everyone unwilling to make commitments. I was planning for my band to do some recordings in Portugal later this year. You may wonder why someone who owns a studio would want to fly to Portugal to another studio? The reason is that a change of scenery is helpful to the writing process. The studio is owned by one of my main collaborators and we often record material at both studios. As a band, we feel that it would be a fitting coda to the pandemic. But now our plans are thrown into chaos again. Many planning holidays will feel the same. What has happened today with regard to travel to Portugal is a stark reminder that we mustn't make the mistake of thinking the pandemic is over. We need to be careful until such time as we really do know it is beaten and it is not just ill informed, siren voices on Twitter shouting it.