COVID-19 makes fools of us all. Politicians, scientists, civil servants and of course journalists. Even Dominic Cummings, who told MPs in May that he “bitterly regretted” his own mistakes and apologised tearfully to the families of “those who died needlessly" as a result. Somehow he forgot to mention this in the latest stop in his “revenge tour”, as Baroness Davidson of Lundin Links put it yesterday.

This tenacious little virus (and no, I don’t mean Mr Cummings) always seems to be one step ahead of us. In the middle of summer, when contagions aren’t supposed to happen, it somehow delivers a pandemic wave higher than last winter. We are now talking not just about 50,000 cases a day but 200,000 cases a day.

Mr Cummings says Boris Johnson didn’t want to have another lockdown last autumn because only those over 80 were dying. Presumably he’d advise one now because the infection rate is higher. Triaging the elderly has been Government policy since the start, as Mr Cummings well knows. They are always put at risk whenever restrictions are lifted.

It’s a trade-off. Lockdown hits younger people with mental health issues. You’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t and if you are Mr Johnson you’re just damned. The Shopping Trolley, as he is now known, has been ricocheting from crisis to crisis, gaffe to gaffe.

The PM is essentially a gifted essayist, given to hyperbole – like “get Covid; live longer”. This might sound witty in a column but comes over as callous in a text from a Prime Minister. Mr Johnson is not a master of detail, and has the honesty to admit it. But that means he tends, like a cushion, to show the impression of the last person, or expert, who sat on him. Fortunately, for all of us, it isn’t the Baron of Barnard Castle any more.

When the PM tries to be decisive it invariably goes wrong. Freedom Day? Mr Johnson has to self-isolate after being pinged by, of all people, his own Health Secretary.

Read more: The callous calculus: how many Covid deaths is too many?

And we should have known the minute he eased quarantine restrictions to amber list countries that Covid would be on the case. It throws up a new South African “Beta” variant. This is even more contagious than Delta or Kent – or even even what Sir Keir Starmer is calling the Johnson Variant: Opening Up disease.

Though Captain Hindsight does seem to have forgotten that, only days ago, he agreed with nearly all of the restrictions, bar masks, being lifted this week. That’s when he was enthusiastically participating in that great superspreader event called England match.

Nicola Sturgeon is playing the same game, only she’s better at it. Crafty Corporal Retrospect is now waiting to see the reaction to the PM’s call for vaccine passports for nightclubs. This might just be popular with SNP youth. “We’ll consult stakeholders,” says her Deputy Chief Medical Officer. Ms Sturgeon doesn’t want to appear “coercive” – as if a legal requirement to wear masks does not involve coercion. Actually vaccine passports seem to have been a hit in France where they are encouraging more young people to get jabbed. Expect to hear a Bute House announcement immediatement.

On Monday, Non-Freedom Day, Ms Sturgeon took Scotland to level 0.5 instead of the promised “zero minus”. These designations would have been ridiculed had Mr Johnson announced them. Ask anyone what 0.5 means and you get blank stares. Is it eight people from four households or the other way round? How many times does 15 go into 15? Think of a number and double it for weddings and football matches. Social distancing? Pass.

Read more: Cummings saga could see Sturgeon caught in the crossfire

I am no enthusiast for Mr Johnson, but it was outrageous for Ms Sturgeon to suggest in her briefing yesterday that he should consider resigning because he is “complacent about human life”. He nearly died from it himself, remember. And come to think of it, Scotland didn’t go into lockdown last autumn either.

Moreover, have we forgotten already the old people who died needlessly under Ms Sturgeon’s watch, according to her own former Health Secretary Jeane Freeman? The same minister who halted community testing in March 2020. Some humility would not go amiss.

You’d never guess from all this that the vaccination programme has been a colossal UK-wide success. Covid is effectively beaten. So why doesn’t it see sense and give up the ghost?

According to the BBC’s More or Less, there’s only been is only been half a Coke-can dull of these little bogeys in the entire global pandemic. Biologists say coronavirus isn’t really alive.

But it seems to know what it’s doing better than we do. And it just won’t give up.

Instead of attacking our bodies, now most of us are vaccinated, Covid is turning to attacking society. It has transmuted with our digital assistance, into a virtual virus, a pingdemic. Factories and offices are closing faster than last winter because of employees having to self-isolate – because the computer says so. But if we don’t ping the infection rate might double again.

HeraldScotland: Would Tony Blair have been the ideal Prime Minister in this crisis?Would Tony Blair have been the ideal Prime Minister in this crisis?

If this does turn out to be a biological weapon, developed perhaps by some mad Bond villain, he must be stroking his cat with particular glee right now. The longer it goes on the more our way of life is changing. In the age of social media, we find it impossible to live with risk. The less the risk becomes, the more we worry about it.

And yes, we do have the wrong PM for this crisis. Someone who reads all their briefs, like John Major or a scientist like Margaret Thatcher, or even Theresa May, might have carried more authority. Though on second thoughts, the Maybot would probably have got stuck in lockdown because of a robotic attachment to the precautionary principle. We’d all be living in cells like monks.

Troubling though it is to admit it, but the political leader who sounds most credible right now is Tony Blair, who says, amongst other sensible things, that quarantine should be replaced by a PCR test for the pinged. He does genuinely seem to be one step ahead of The Covid. But he’s not available for service.

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