VACCINE day has arrived – a V for Victory Day for sure.
It’s a day we all hoped for but few dared believe would arrive this year.
And yet here we are. Just nine months since the first case of coronavirus was found in the UK (in York, just five minutes from where I live). And we are administering the first vaccine in the UK against this devastating virus.
Vaccine Day tears
Health secretary Matt Hancock was close to tears on TV this morning as the Covid-19 vaccination programme got underway at hospitals across the UK
But who wasn’t? As I watched 90-year-old grandmother Margaret Keenan receive the jab from matron May Parsons at University Hospital, Coventry, my eyes filled up too.
We have thrown everything at this wretched virus and the truth is we just can’t shake the beast off our backs.
It seems no amount of national lockdowns or regional restrictions will kill this thing.
And the UK is not alone. Other countries are counting the near unimaginable cost of this coronavirus crisis in terms of loss of lives as well as livelihoods.
More than 1.5 million people have died from Covid-19 across the world. The International Monetary Fund warns the pandemic will cost us £21.5tn in lost output.
A vaccine is our only way out.
Luckily we have several in the pipeline.
Unlike the Government’s floundering Brexit deal – these really are ‘oven ready’.
Vaccine Day – waiting game
It will take months to roll out the vaccine programme – not just in the UK, but across the world.
It means we will be living under restrictions for a while longer. Probably months. Things might even get stricter before they ease off. I wouldn’t be surprised if we have to have another national lockdown in January to pay for the easing of household mixing rules over Christmas.
But that all seems bearable now – knowing that a vaccine is on the horizon and normal life will resume some time in 2021.
Will people take it?
It’s all very well having vaccines available – but the public need to have confidence in them.
There are legitimate questions being asked about the safety of the Covid vaccines especially regarding how quickly they have been produced by scientists and approved by regulators.
We are being reassured that they are safe – and it is key that the communication strategy for persuading people to take a Covid jab does not falter.
Our Government has put many a foot wrong over the past nine months in the handling of this crisis.
But this is one area it simply can’t afford to mess up.
Facts of the day
Cases worldwide: 68,014,594
Deaths worldwide: 1,553,169
Cases UK: 1,754,881
Deaths UK: 62,130 – the fifth highest in the world behind US, Brazil, India and Mexico
- Deaths from Covid-19 in the US have soared to more than 2,200 a day on average, matching the peak reached last April.
- Mexico plans to begin vaccinating its citizens against Covid-19 at the end of the third week of December, starting with health workers.
- York, currently operating under tier 2 restrictions, continues to see its Covid infection rates fall to 60.3 per 100,000 people (compared with almost 150 per 100,000 for the whole of England). Some 5,796 have contracted coronavirus in York since the outbreak of the pandemic. Latest figures from NHS England show there has been a total of 314 Covid-related deaths at York and Scarborough Hospitals since the start of the pandemic.
*Coronavirus facts and figures from https://coronavirus.jhu.edu/map.html The Guardian’s ‘At A Glance’ daily reports and thepress.co.uk; The Press, York