The Corner


The EU Failure Is Personal

European Union flags fly outside the European Commission headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, April 10, 2019. (Yves Herman/Reuters)

The vaccine disaster in Europe is really something to behold. And for me, it’s personal. I haven’t seen members of my family for more than a year. Ireland has had a long and rather strict lockdown — one where you’re not allowed to move five kilometers (3.11 miles) from your own home — with little relief for the past six months. Currently there are 336 hospitalized cases reported in Ireland, and 83 in the ICU. Nearly three quarters of the cases are for people under 45.

Ireland’s approach to COVID was to try to depoliticize the pandemic by giving unprecedented authority to the recommendations of its National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET). What that means is that a semi-independent and unelected body is responsible for shutting down the country. When its mathematical models fail to predict the course of the pandemic, the members of this body upbraid the public for not behaving as they should.

This is rule by experts. And this was emphasized by the fact that even as Ireland paused the AstraZeneca vaccine after some negative reports from Norway, the Irish taoiseach, Micheál Martin, said he would take it himself.

But the vaccine exit out of lockdown still seems like a long way off.

We were hoping to stage some kind of reunion in the summer. But the sounds coming from the government are not good.

Just a little bit more, hang on longer. Keep going. A few more weeks and maybe, if you’re good, you get some of your freedom back.

My only consolation are reports from friends and family that the level of compliance with these lockdown measures is dropping precipitously. There is no organized attempt to overthrow NPHET’s reign, or demand faster vaccination — but there is a widespread passive evasion of the government’s restrictions.


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