The truth is, disabled and older people were not “vulnerable” to the virus simply because of their health or age: they were vulnerable because the government did not bother to keep them safe. What happened to our “most vulnerable” during the pandemic was not some terrible tragedy. It was the all too predictable consequence of a system that decided the lives of disabled and older people mattered less than those of the rest.
When deaths start to mount, it becomes remarkably easy to lose sight of the value of a life. In April last year, as hospitals buckled under rising cases, the British Medical Association set out guidance – later withdrawn – to ration treatment away from Covid patients with certain disabilities. By the second wave, people with learning disabilities who had fallen sick with the virus were having “do not resuscitate” orders imposed on them. These moments were shocking, but ultimately they barely registered as a scandal. It is remarkable how easily injustice can be accepted if it is being inflicted on the right set of people.