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Therese Raphael

How Did Britain Get It So Wrong and So Right?

Passing 100,000 Covid deaths wasn’t inevitable, but neither was having one of the best vaccination records. Boris Johnson must learn from both.

Not just a matter for future inquiries.

Not just a matter for future inquiries.

Photographer: TOLGA AKMEN/AFP

Although everyone knew it was coming, the U.K.’s passing beyond 100,000 Covid-related deaths still gave pause. How Britain ended up with one of the world’s worst fatality rates will be subject to much inquiry in the years ahead.

But how to square this dismal toll with the other aspect of pandemic management of which Prime Minister Boris Johnson is rightly proud: Britain’s global leadership in vaccinations? Already, it has vaccinated more than 7 million people, well ahead of any other European country. The program has gone so well that the government is now worried about pressure to give up some of its supply to let other countries catch up.