The battle between vaccines and the Delta variant of the
coronavirus is reaching its climax in the UK, closely followed by
the rest of the world. What is at stake is whether advanced
economies with high vaccination rates can benefit from something
approaching pre-pandemic life versus the rapidly spreading
versions of the virus.
The experiment should give a strong signal as to whether Covid-
19 can be relegated to the status of a manageable seasonal
threat like the flu and, whether lockdowns and social distancing
can be relegated to the past.
In England, almost all of the COVID-era restrictions were lifted on
Monday. Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said he wants Britons
to judge for themselves whether they should cover their faces,
dance in nightclubs, or avoid big gatherings.
The change occurs even as the number of cases is rapidly
growing: the UK records nearly 50,000 cases a day, more than
those reported in Brazil, India, Indonesia, or South Africa. The
government justifies its actions by pointing to much lower
hospitalization and death rates than in the previous wave of the
The approach puts the UK at odds with its neighbors in Europe,
parts of the US, and other highly vaccinated countries like Israel,
where the launch of the vaccine goes hand in hand with the
tightening of some public health measures, such as the wearing
of masks and social distancing to stop the spread of the Delta