Friday, October 22

Britain’s sunny optimism on vaccines is hit by the first thunder, may not be the last | Coronavirus

So close and yet so far. Just as the Covid vaccine seemed to be in our mid-forties, it seems that we may not receive it in time for the lifting of the blockade in April.

Matt Hancock, the health secretary, did his best to put a brave face on things in yesterday’s press conference, insisting that the goal of vaccinating all adults by July would continue to be met. But it’s clear from a leaked letter sent through the NHS that a reduction in supplies could delay hits for healthy under-50s until May.

There goes my hopes of making double the gold, aka getting the shot Y a proper haircut in the middle of next month.

It’s irritating, obviously, but it’s hardly the end of the world. Healthy forties have a very low risk of dying from Covid, so prioritizing second blows for our elderly parents over first blows for us seems fair enough when supplies are tight. The calendar to end the confinement is not changing and we will be better protected this time than last time, thanks to others who have already been vaccinated. Research suggests that living with someone who has received the jab reduces the risk of contracting Covid by 30%, and many forty-somethings will have partners old enough to sneak under the wire. Meanwhile, parents get a little peace of mind because our children take exams twice a week at school. Yes, it is annoying being that middle age: too young for the jab, still old enough to be considered more or less dead by teenagers. But since last summer, people were openly wondering if there would ever be a viable vaccine against the coronavirus, I will accept it.

But all that said, this is the first thunder on the horizon after weeks of vaccine-induced sunny optimism, and it may not be the last. This week, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen revived threats to restrict exports of vaccines, most of which are Pfizer, to the UK, if EU countries whose own vaccine launches have been painfully slow do not receive more doses of AstraZeneca. jab that is produced in Great Britain.

Both parties know that nobody wins with this type of protectionism; that while Britain is partly dependent on doses manufactured in EU countries, the EU also needs supplies of materials from Britain. But scarcity is too often the enemy of reason. If supplies really start to run low in countries whose leaders are under intense political pressure, which has always been a risk given the complexity of producing these vaccines, things could quickly turn ugly. And last year should have taught us that no country is safe until its neighbors are. The last thing Britain needs, no matter how well launching our own vaccine goes, is a third wave of Covid exploding on our doorstep, increasing the risk of more mutations.

The heroic push to vaccinate Britain has so far been the government’s only brilliant success of an otherwise depressing year, earning it a rebound in polls heading into local elections among voters still looking for excuses to give Boris Johnson the benefit of the doubt. . Crucially, it has also fueled a rise in economic confidence that may be essential to saving jobs. Nothing is likely to stand between the young and the possibility of a social life. But will my generation continue to book tables at restaurants and vacations abroad, go back to the offices and buy proper clothes to get out of the house, with the same gleeful abandon this spring if the vaccine launch runs into trouble?

They crossed their fingers, then, for nothing worse than a brief temporary hiccup. But at the very least, it’s a warning that a lockdown that is now visibly eroding at the edges is still in place for a reason, and that coldness between Britain and the rest of Europe must prevail. We are by no means out of the woods yet.

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