O N DECEMBER 29TH Britain recorded 246,215 cases of covid-19, a number more than three times higher than the previous peak, a year ago. If Britain's level of immunity was the same as in the winter of 2020, when almost no one had been vaccinated, this number of cases would constitute a new order of disaster. Many thousands of people would be dying every day. But thanks to vaccination, they are not. The share who die after testing positive for covid-19 is now roughly a twentieth of what it was last winter. It is against this backdrop that the government is considering when to stop providing free lateral-flow tests to the public, a policy which has cost more than £6bn ($8.2bn) to date. Faced with public outrage it recently wobbled, but that the supply will soon end is not in doubt. The timing, however, is thorny. The NHS is stretched thin. Scientists and public-health experts worry that high caseloads will leave large numbers of people with the post-viral conditions collectively known as long covid, and that ending free tests would give the virus a boost. Some people have grown used to the licence conferred by the single pink line of… Read full this story
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