Pinning our hopes on a quick-fix, ‘moonshot’ solution serves no useful purpose and will only bring disappointment
Seven or so months ago, at the start of the pandemic, many of us found it easy and natural to imagine a time when all of this would be over: a single, obvious moment when society’s recreational life resumed to normal, when friends and family welcomed us into their homes with hugs and kisses, and we all talked, with excited, wounded relief, about how hard it had been, and how happy we were that the virus was behind us.
In Britain, as elsewhere, such wishful thinking was prescribed. Boris Johnson declared that, if we all did what we were told, we could “turn the tide on the virus within 12 weeks”. Meanwhile the ubiquitous analogies comparing a pandemic to war fuelled the fantasy that we would have our own “liberation day”. Much of the media eagerly encouraged this feeling, at the same time as it stoked implausible hopes of a vaccine arriving by September.