Why we should be optimistic about 2021

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As the clock struck midnight on January 1, 2021, it felt like the whole nation breathed a
massive, synchronised sigh of relief. Above London, illuminations of the NHS logo, Captain
Tom Moore, and the fists associated with the Black Lives Matter movement brightened the
sky. Whilst these light shows were happening however, NHS staff were still working as hard
as ever. COVID-19 has not disappeared, it did not expire at midnight. Cases are continuing to
rise, and unfortunately, deaths are rising consequently. COVID-19 is still as present as it has ever been.

But treatments and vaccinations are also as present as they have ever been. We now have 2
vaccinations licensed for use — first one being the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccination, and the
second being the Oxford/AstraZeneca one, the latter of which is a lot easier to distribute
across the country. It is for these vaccinations alone why I believe we should be optimistic
about 2021.

Can the vaccines bring normality by Easter or Summer? Absolutely.

So far, according to the Department of Health and Social Care, well over 600,000 people
have already received the first dose of the Pfier/BioNTech vaccination between 8 – 20
December (it is worth bearing in mind however, that both vaccinations require 2 doses, at
least 21 days apart, for the strongest protection against COVID-19). This has been a
herculean effort by the NHS, which works out to just over 51,000 jabs per day. Of course,
this process will either need to be repeated twice over, or the government go ahead with their
alleged plans to delay people’s second doses in order to give more people their first dose. The
pros and cons of either of these plans is up for debate, but what cannot be understated is just
how rapidly the vaccination program has progressed across the country. And this is just the
start. We now have a whole other vaccination. One that does not need to be stored at -70
degrees, and therefore, one that is much easier to both ship and store. Indeed, the
Oxford/AstraZeneca one will alleviate many of the hurdles that are present in terms of the
logistics of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccination.

Of course, as with most other vaccination programs, there is a priority list which dictates who
should get the vaccine and when. Unsurprisingly, care workers, care home residents and the
country’s most vulnerable people top that list. And, according to the ONS, there are roughly
2.2m vulnerable people in the UK, which, considering the 600,000+ people that have
already received their first dose, means we are already well on our way to vaccinating those
who need it most. So what does this mean for the short term then? Not much, ultimately. Can
the vaccines bring normality by Easter or Summer? Absolutely. There is no reason why not.

Aside from COVID-19, the UK finally reached a deal with the European Union, and on
December 31, 2020, at 11pm GMT, we ceased to operate under EU rules and became an
independent country once more. This is certainly one of the other massive talking points
when people consider their optimism for 2021. This would have been split 50/50 (or more
specifically, split 52/48), if the Government did not make such an enormous mess of it. Given
how the deal was finally agreed on Christmas Eve, one week before we were due to leave, it
would be reasonable to feel a certain hesitance about our rules of engagement outside of the
EU. Transitions are still occurring however, but 2021 has serious potential of being one to
remember.

Stay safe, stay strong. We will get there. We made it through 2020, so we can do anything.

Image: Harry Pammer via Flickr

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