Early in the pandemic, as the UK accelerated into its first wave of covid, the government had a sudden realization that its attempts at herd immunity weren’t going to work. Gathering in the Prime Minister’s study, key officials sketched out options on a whiteboard.
Plan A — the original plan—was proving to be a disaster and was expected to result in over 4,000 deaths a day and a broken National Health Service. So scribbled across the board in red marker, and later shared in a tweet by Dominic Cummings, were thoughts on an alternative — Plan B.
The so-called Plan B involved national lockdowns and virus suppression plus eventual vaccines and a tracking app, helping the country to slow down and spread out infections to avoid exponential growth. It was the plan we followed in the UK —-all the way through to the note scrawled in the bottom right-hand corner, where they posed the question: “who do we not save.”
More than two years later, there are 500,000 of us who know exactly how the British government is answering that question. Immunosuppressed without the protection of the vaccine, we continue to be forced to shield and put life on hold while the government tells us the pandemic is behind us. For us the risk from contracting covid now is as high as it was at the start of the pandemic: Many of us are part of the 1% of people in the UK who have no antibodies against COVID-19. If you add to this a lack of B cells due to immunosuppression, plus inability to benefit from Paxlovid anti-virals due to drug interactions, we are left incredibly vulnerable to covid infection, severe illness and death if we re-enter society.
While most other countries now offer Evusheld, a preventative antibody drug, to its vulnerable to provide equivalent protection to the vaccine, the UK government won’t pay for it.
I can only assume that they are still playing the game they started two years ago, slowly moving their pieces across the board to the bottom right corner. Our lives—and our deaths— are part of the plan.