Scientists may have provided us with a miraculous fix for Covid, but history shows that any path to recovery will be long

Adam Tooze | Financial Times | December 18, 2020

It’s a surprise, but 2020 is not ending on a totally gloomy note. Perhaps it will be a V-shaped recovery after all, where V stands for vaccine.

By holding out the promise of an imminent return to the “before time”, the news of the vaccines has transformed the outlook. Markets are exuberant and there is brave talk of a global economic rebound next year.

Never has the world depended to such a degree on the success of a single scientific research programme. It is hard not to think of Winston Churchill’s immortal line about the Battle of Britain: never was so much owed by so many to so few.

The problem with that glorious mythology is that it downplays the defeats that put the UK in the perilous position it was in in 1940 and made the road to victory so arduous. As a counterpoint, consider the disturbing associations brought to mind by Robert Harris’s latest novel about Adolf Hitler’s last-gasp miracle weapon, the V2 rockets. Hurtling across the English Channel at three times the speed of sound, there was no defence against these ballistic missiles. Besieged Londoners got by with a mixture of superstition, obliviousness and the latest in radar and ballistics. But for all the terror they instilled, the rockets could not save Hitler’s war.

Originally published in Financial Times. Read the full article here