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The Lowdown Hub

The UK can lead the world in 2021 with a pioneering lockdown exit plan

It has been the custom of this column to devote its first appearance every new year to anti-predictions: things that would not happen in the following 12 months. But under the circumstances of the present emergency, it seemed more appropriate to use this space to set out a list of good news developments that might reasonably be expected to occur. This decision was, at least in part, prompted by the quite startling resourcefulness of the broadcast media in finding ways to bury any good news story under an avalanche of public sector lobbying. What follows, then, is a list of eventualities that could be described as optimistic – that’s the whole point – but which are not, I would argue, implausible.

The first one follows from the stupendous success story of the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine which has given the world an infinitely more practicable and inexpensive way to inoculate vast populations – especially those in developing countries – against the pandemic. As the prime minister, among many others, has pointed out, this is a triumph for British scientific endeavor and pharmaceutical cooperation. That such an innovation emerged in this country should not, of course, have been a surprise. The double helix structure of DNA and the basic principles of modern computing were also discovered in the UK.