My Lords, as the Prime Minister and the Health Secretary have said repeatedly, we ultimately will have to learn to live with Covid. This means accepting that a tiny proportion of those who are immune, either because they are young and healthy or because they are have been vaccinated, will none the less succumb to Covid in future, which will continue to circulate as the flu and other viruses do.
We have already offered the vaccine to all those who are particularly susceptible through age and health condition. That accounts for 99% of potential deaths. Some 30 million of those people have had both jabs and are as safe as they ever will be; 12 million have had the first jab so are already partly protected. We are told that the only reason for extending the regulations is to give those people time to have the second jab. Surely it would be possible to say to those 12 million people, “If you want to achieve the maximum level of protection, you should, during the remaining 10 weeks, make sure that you behave very cautiously in who you mix with and obey more restrictions than the Government are imposing upon you.”
Of the remainder, a few have chosen not to be vaccinated. That is their right and their risk. They should not be able to hold the rest of us to ransom. The young and the fit face a tiny risk of fatality commensurate with other risks with which they also live and, I am told by officials, commensurate with the tiny risk of blood clots from the AstraZeneca jab. I can see no reason to extend the controls beyond 21 June. The only reason given was this business about allowing the people who have had one jab to have their second. Surely that should be left to their personal responsibility.
During the seminar this morning to which the noble Baroness, Lady Donaghy, referred, I was told that there is an additional reason: many of the 30 million people who have had two jabs could be infected asymptomatically and spread the virus. But who could they spread it to? The answer is: only people who are already vaccinated or are too young to be at serious risk. By definition, therefore, there is no reason for these regulations. I shall oppose them and possibly even vote against them via the fatal amendment.