Author: Gautam Badlani
Designation: Student, Chanakya National Law University
Email ID: firstname.lastname@example.org
While as many as 218 counties have been affected by the covd-19 pandemic, no other country’s battle with the virus has been as struggling as the United Kingdom. The United Kingdom, only recently, approved the ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 or AZD1222 vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University and became the first country in the world to begin a massive vaccination process. It was then anticipated that the corona era is about to end and that the United Kingdom vaccination drive will guide the other nations on how to carry on such an unprecedented exercise.
However, things took a wild turn and on January 4, the United Kingdom Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced the imposition of a strict lockdown in London and Southeast England. Scotland, Wales and Ireland have also announced similar measures. The lockdown in England, as per the officials, is expected to stay in force till mid-February. The imposition of the lockdown was prompted by the massive rise in the number of daily infections across the United Kingdom. The numbers rose to as high as 60,000 daily new cases and such a massive caseload began to overwhelm the United Kingdom hospitals. Britain has the highest number of covid-19 deaths in Europe. The situation is so bad that some hospitals have stopped non-covid treatment. The healthcare infrastructure has been pushed to the extreme. The British government has, for the first time, raised the covid alert to its highest stage. Unlike the march lockdown, this time there was a unanimous approval by the Parliament to impose the lockdown. Instead of opposing the lockdown measures, the opposition, considering the gravity of the situation, regretted that the lockdown measures were not imposed earlier. All this clearly suggests that despite the vaccination drive, the situation in U.K. has only gone from bad to worse.
According to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the United Kingdom economy is the worst affected economy among all the developed nations. With the U.K. leaving the European Union at such a crucial time, the road ahead looks even harder for the Britons. The investment bank has estimated the U.K. economy to shrink by as much as 3% in the first three months of 2021. J.P. Morgan estimates a contraction of 2.5% in the British Economy. Many economists have argued that this time, businesses and other organizations are much more prepared for work for home scenario than they were in the March lockdown and since the government has allowed manufacturing sectors to keep operating, the impact of the lockdown might not be as harsh as estimated. However, still there is almost a unanimous consensus that the lockdown will have a negative impact on the economy.
The continuous struggle with the virus is certainly testing the patience of the Britons to the extreme. While the covid-19 pandemic has not spared any country, the U.K. takes a special spot. It is the worst affected European country and it became the first to start a massive vaccination drive. The country is not going through its third national lockdown. The U.K. has been simultaneously trying to negotiate a Brexit deal with the European Union. The Brexit deal has the potential to impact the economies of not only the European countries but many other countries too.
While the U.K. government has set an ambitious target of vaccinating most of the vulnerable sections of the society by mid-February, how far it will be able to accomplish this target is to be seen.
Jonathan Corum and Carl Zimmer, How the Oxford-AstraZeneca Vaccine Works, https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/health/oxford-astrazeneca-covid-19-vaccine.html
Andrew Walker, Coronavirus: UK economy could be among worst hit of leading nations, says OECD, https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-52991913
How a third lockdown will impact the UK economy,