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A side-effect of the sheer volume of news we have to enjoy in the United Kingdom at the moment is that Covid-19 is not dominating the agenda as once it did. This might be unfortunate for the Government.

Boris Johnson’s many critics like to hold up his response to the pandemic as part of the case for the prosecution. And there is no doubt that, vaccines aside, this country made plenty of mistakes.

The problem with trying to base charges on an unfamiliar scenario, however, is that one is extremely vulnerable to expected changes in the evidence. Which is what seems to have happened with the data on infection rates. Last month, the data was the stuff of Opposition memes. But look at it now:

Of course, with this selection of countries – which seem to have been cherry-picked to try and make the point in the original – the UK is still near the top. But the trend line for this month looks better than many of the others. The lines for other EU countries, such as Austria, are scarier still.

This perhaps explains why we are starting to see other nations impose a new round of very draconian public health restrictions. German MPs, for example, have voted to restrict public transport to those who have been vaccinated or tested negative, after seeing its biggest-ever one-day increase in cases. Austria has gone even further, and made vaccines mandatory.

Does this vindicate the Government’s own approach? It’s hard for laypeople to tell, although it certainly seems plausible that by allowing the post-unlocking wave to hit over the summer we might have avoided it coinciding with the annual NHS winter crisis.

But that theory might not survive contact with next month’s data. If there is a lesson here, it is the folly of trying to use a snapshot to make a definitive case for this or that country’s strategy. If one month you argue Germany has the answer to combating Covid-19 and have to pivot to South Korea a few weeks later, perhaps it would be wiser to simply stop pretending to have the answers at all.

It isn’t all bad news. Whilst infection rates are going back up, mortality rates are not tracking them as they did in 2020. The vaccines work, which is probably why countries are getting increasingly forceful about people taking them.