I want them to look so far outside the box for threats that it generates furious letters to the Daily Mail when they find out the government is spending money on a plan for a Zombie Apocalypse.
Let me take you back to the summer of 1999, Eiffel65 were number 1 in the charts, The Phantom Menace was breaking records at the box office and I was a fresh faced teenager heading off to Uni to study Immunology & Microbiology. It hadn’t been my plan to do that but I kept being told I should go to Uni, so I looked at the courses and it seemed interesting and more importantly, the entry requirements seemed realistic and matched with the Highers I was taking. I’m sure I’ve forgotten much more than I remember from those classes but something that always stuck with me was the stuff about pandemics.
They told us about the Spanish Flu and it’s horrific death toll and I remember their chilling warning “this will happen again”. It wasn’t a case of “if” there was another pandemic it was just a case of when would it happen. So when Covid-19 reached our shores I had faith in the government, not in Boris or the Tories but in the deeper functions of the state. I kept saying “don’t worry, there’ll be a plan for this”. I thought somewhere in the back of a filing cabinet in the bowels of Whitehall there’d be a dusty file stamped “Top Secret” where there’’d be a thorough contingency plan for how to react to a global pandemic. I think 10 months, 1.2 million cases and 50,000+ deaths later it fair to say no such plan existed. Even more concerning is that it’s now November and it feels like we are sleepwalking into a second wave making all the same mistakes we made in the Spring.
One of the lessons we need to take from this disaster is the importance of being prepared. We were woefully unprepared for this pandemic despite the fact we knew eventually one would come. How prepared are we for the next global disaster, whatever that might be? What’s the plan for rising sea levels if we aren’t able to slow climate change? What about dealing with a massive refugee crisis? What’s the plan if there are global food shortages? We saw how delicate our supply chain is when it was derailed for weeks due to a viral video of people panic buying toilet paper in Australia. We need a government task force dedicated to forming contingency plans for all these eventualities and more. I want them to look so far outside the box for threats that it generates furious letters to the Daily Mail when they find out the government is spending money on a plan for a Zombie Apocalypse. We weren’t prepared for this Pandemic and it’s cost us 50,000 lives. Let’s be ready the next time.