COVID-19 UK Political Analysis by Tim Hames – 3rd April 2020

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Taking Back Control. An unofficial timetable in Whitehall which depends on mass antibody testing.

If one were a conspiracy theorist (and there is no shortage on that front at the moment), then one might conclude that this was a very convenient few days for the Prime Minister, the Health Secretary and the Chief Medical Officer for England all to be in self-isolation simultaneously. For it was almost inevitable that this would be an extremely challenging week for Whitehall as the initial “rally round the flag” effect witnessed immediately after the de facto lockdown was announced began to fade, the scale of what the peak might look like in terms of the death toll started to become starker and a manifestly irritable media moved en masse into a competition as to whom could uncover the most damning and disturbing stories relating to an alleged shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE), a supposed absence of ventilators and a more evident difficulty in extending testing to key NHS staff members. As circumstances have developed, however, Boris Johnson, Matt Hancock and Professor Chris Whitty have managed to apply a degree of social distancing from these stories and to return as a trio at a moment when (in all probability) some logistical progress can be pointed to and allowing the inference to be drawn that matters will be fine now that the A-Team is back on duty.

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