Peter Rhodes on Trump's army, spreading fake history and why the vaccine target may be easier than we think

Read the latest column from Peter Rhodes.

A perfectly achievable target?
A perfectly achievable target?

A reader tells me he used his supermarket loyalty card to scrape ice from his windscreen but it only got 10 per cent off.

If America can just get through the next eight, seven, six days . . . You can almost hear the good people of the States ticking off the hours until Donald Trump is out of the White House, sanity returns and America finds peace with itself. Care to bet?

Trump is not a spent force. He gathered millions more votes in 2020 than in 2016 and, as we saw last week, some of his followers are prepared to follow him to the death. Their deaths, that is, not his. Trump may have given the impression that he would lead last week's march on the Capitol but he watched it on telly instead. Marching? Banner-waving? Personal courage? Nah, he's not that kind of leader. In any other place, at any other time, Trump's army would have seen their leader for what he is and either abandoned the struggle or chosen a new leader. But the whisper on their preferred brands of social media is that the video, in which Trump allegedly condemned their violence, was deepfakery. There is a hopeful belief that when his term as president expires on January 20, America's troubles will be over. They may only be beginning.

Here are two fascinating insights into the Covid-19 vaccination programme with its seemingly impossible target of 15 million jabs by mid-February. Sir John Bell, regius chair of medicine at the University of Oxford, says the NHS has “the theoretical capacity to immunise everybody in five days.” Kate Bingham, former head of the Vaccine Taskforce reckons that after “relentless rehearsals,” the UK may actually exceed its vaccination target.

And why not? Mass medication, whether in the form of blood-pressure pills or flu jabs, is what the NHS does best. So don't be surprised if Boris and Co have deliberately chosen a target which looks wildly optimistic but which they know is perfectly achievable. Time will tell.

Meanwhile, school places supposedly reserved for the children of key workers have been snapped up by all and sundry. One headteacher bluntly dismissed a dog walker's claim to be an essential worker. But if that dog walker is walking the pooches of half-a-dozen harassed teachers or knackered nurses, who's to say the job isn't essential? And if the school's computer crashes, who is more of a key worker, the teachers unable to teach or the white-van man on his way to fix it?

If the conditions are right, everybody who works is a key worker. With the obvious exception of people who spread fake history. Ahem. The husband of Catherine the Great was not Peter the Great, as I stated in last week's review of The Great (C4), but Peter III. He was certainly not great, although his grasp of Russian imperial history was definitely better than mine.

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