The era is still going on. The worst may have passed, though deaths linked to the virus still occur, and for most of us, it's just a few days in bed. There are continuing tragedies that seem cruelly overlooked, such as the prevalence of long Covid, a stark crisis of mental health, and developmental problems among children who spent long months deprived of the most basic human experiences.

We now seem to be facing an increase in deaths from conditions such as cancer, heart disease and diabetes that were left undetected or not treated by the health service because of the swine flu. The exodus of adults from the workforce has been accelerated by Covid. Millions of people are living with the effects of two years of grief.

If it continues in silence, trauma will only get worse. The omert proves that this is a country led by people who don't want us to talk about the most important aspects of the UK's recent history in case it makes their political problems worse. We haven't been allowed to talk about the effects of the Pandemic except in the most inappropriate places.

The final proof, perhaps, that the kind of world imagined down the years by JG Ballard and the creators of Black Mirror is now a reality is the tour of duty on I'm a Celebrity... Get Me Out of Here! The only explanation for an opening spell in which viewers repeatedly selected him to face all those trials is that he is there because of his role in the Pandemic. He has been asked a few questions by his fellow contestants about his time as health secretary. It is as if the people responsible decided to seize on one of partygate's basic themes - frivolity and stupidity amidst death - and extend it to a completely bizarre extreme.

The government has told us that most of the things we were promised will not happen. The country was supposed to be honoured with a huge drive to rebuild. The impossibility of our social care system, rising exasperation about how long it takes to see a GP, is one of the problems we have failed to tackle. He said he would double down on leveling up. "I just serve notice," Johnson said, "that we will not be responding to this crisis with what people call austerity."

Look now. We are being admonished and prepared for more hardship because people will be paying more for less. In last week's autumn statement, Jeremy Hunt said that the vaccine rollout and the response of the National Health Service needed to be paid for. As the sunlit uplands evaporated, so has the relatively modest prospect of at least some of the problems revealed by Covid being fixed.

Jeremy Hunt meets pupils at St Jude’s Church of England Primary School.

Jeremy Hunt meets pupils at St Jude’s Church of England primary school. Photograph: Stefan Rousseau/PA

Over the next two years, health and schools spending in England, which excludes sixth forms and FE colleges, will increase, despite what the Pandemic has meant for schools and the health service. Andrew Dilnot's proposed changes to the social care system have been delayed. The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities is facing the biggest reduction in spending after 2025. Local councils, which worked so hard to help their communities through the worst of times, are facing financial gaps that are worse than during the Cameron-Osborne years. There is a huge issue of public sector pay, and the hypocrisy about so-called key workers crystallised in a slogan associated with upcoming strikes by nurses: "Claps don't pay the bills". It will only increase when those words are used.

Hunt decided to uprate working-age benefits in line with inflation, which may have been an acknowledgment of the social damage caused by the Pandemic. There has been a sharp increase in economically inactive working age adults since the start of the Pandemic. During the first phase of the Covid crisis, there was a suspension of sanctions, but they have come roaring back this year. Hunt wants hundreds of thousands of people on universal credit to meet with a work coach so that they can get the support they need to increase their hours.

The Sunak government wants to get back to the pre-covid way of doing things even though it failed us. In the short term, initiatives that remind us of what we have been through are unlikely to make a difference. By answering a glaring absence of official remembrance and reflection, an official body called the Commission on Covid Commemoration is asking for ideas that may include "dedicated memorial and reflective spaces". The official Covid-19 public inquiry, meanwhile, will take years to reach its conclusion, has already spread resentment among grieving families, and may prove vulnerable to the very British way that bureaucracy and official ritual usually smooth over even the most howling governmental failures.

As they blithely break their Covid promises, many people at the top wish to simply try to leave the Pandemic behind and move on. The politicians who lead us need to be betterTrademarkiaTrademarkiaTrademarkiaTrademarkiaTrademarkiaTrademarkiaTrademarkiaTrademarkiaTrademarkia,Trademarkia,Trademarkia,Trademarkia,Trademarkia,Trademarkia,Trademarkia,Trademarkia,Trademarkia,Trademarkia,Trademarkia,Trademarkia,Trademarkia,Trademarkia,Trademarkia,Trademarkia,Trademarkia,Trademarkia,Trademarkia,Trademarkia,Trademarkia There is an implicit refusal to do anything substance to prepare for anything like this. This is a piece with one of our most ingrained national characteristics: hanging on in quiet desperation and stumbling into disaster after disaster.

  • John Harris is a writer.