As I write this month’s column, I am reminded of the song ‘All I want for Christmas’. You will all know it. No doubt it is already being played over and over on radio stations. And if you venture out for some Christmas shopping, it’s bound to be playing in the background.
Many people if asked what they wanted for Christmas would respond by saying an end to the pandemic in sight. All I want for Christmas… is a vaccine! The fantastic news that our national medicines regulator has given the green light for the Pfizer/BioNTech Covid vaccine to be used, is an early Christmas present for all of us.
Of course, there are lots of questions about this vaccine, and the others that are awaiting approval. Foremost in many people’s minds will be – is this vaccine safe if it was developed and approved so quickly. The United Kingdom has one of the most rigorous medicine regulators in the world and they would not authorise the use of this vaccine with out careful consideration of all the available data and medical evidence.
Whilst this is exciting news, we all still need to remain patient. We now face an enormous logistical challenge to roll-out a vaccination programme across the country. The Government, following the medical and scientific advice, will set the priority for those to receive the vaccine first. Until there is widespread immunisation across the population, we should not let our guard down. While infection levels have started to fall, they are still at a high level, and the pressure on hospitals remains severe.
Although the England-wide lockdown ended earlier this week, there is still a need to tackle the virus at a localised level. That is why Parliament voted for the new tougher tiered system across the country. I know many will be disappointed that Great Yarmouth, and Norfolk, is in Tier 2. However, this is not an extension of the lockdown as we are able to do much more than we could before.
As mass testing and vaccines are rolled out through winter and into the spring, the need for even localised restrictions will gradually reduce – and life can once again return closer to normality.