Star comment: Many lessons to be learned from Covid pandemic

The Covid-19 inquiry will quite rightly look at the facts and the immediate lessons to be learned.

It must identify where we were found wanting, where big mistakes were made. It should also identify who was responsible for errors and how better decisions might have been made.

The families of victims must be heard. They have carried the can for error and misjudgement and it is time for them to have their say.

Once the immediate tragic consequences of the pandemic are considered, there are many other layers to look at. They include the ongoing impact of long Covid and how sufferers are cared for. The clinically vulnerable remain at risk, too, and their needs must be taken into account.

There is also the impact of coming out of lockdown. Use of drugs by young people has increased by 50 per cent since Covid-19 restrictions ended, according to new data. Charity The Mix has published research showing a third of the 2,000 people aged between 16 and 25 who it surveyed – or equivalent to an estimated 2.6 million people across the UK – used an illegal drug in the past year.

The pandemic changed society. In many ways it made us better people, more caring and understanding of others. But there also appears to be a large number of people damaged by it. It is uncertain why drug use among the young has shot up so quickly since restrictions ended, but it is something that must be investigated and acted upon.

A huge amount of good came from Covid and many people behaved heroically. The dark after-effects, however, are still being felt and will be for years to come. We must start to get to grips with them.

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Liz Truss, like all politicians, enjoys soundbites.

Today she says she will not let down the West Midlands and has pledged to continue the levelling-up agenda of her predecessor. Proof, of course, will be in the pudding and she has two years before the next election to prove her credentials.

In speaking to the Star, she was appealing to both the electorate and her own MPs. Across our region, we have many Tory representatives who will be looking over their shoulder as they read about the party’s slump in the polls. Obvious vulnerabilities include ‘red wall’ areas like West Bromwich. There are also other must-win Labour targets like Telford and Wolverhampton South West that suddenly seem at risk. And the Lib Dems have shown in North Shropshire that safe seats can be overturned.

The next two years are crucial both for the nation and the future of the Tory Party.

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