My staff are off this week, so I have been responding to a light dusting of emails myself each day to prevent a massive backlog. This morning was a classic. The first one I read castigated me for agreeing with us having any restrictions at all, accusing us of being tyrannical; the very next email complained that we were acting too slowly and that we should be in tier 4.
It is not easy to get the balance right between protecting lives, maintaining our precious freedoms, keeping the economy going to some extent and keeping children in education. Where is Solomon when you need him?
None of us wanted to be in Tier 3, but the new variant of Covid 19 is 70% more transmissible and roughly 60% of all cases are now of this variant. When I last checked, just before Christmas, Derriford ICU had 21 Covid patients, (as opposed to 90 in November) but planning for a difficult January. Once again, we are all so grateful to all of our NHS nurses and doctors and support staff who have already given so much.
There have been two huge game changers that give us muchhope for 2021. The first is the approval of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine which will be rolled out in substantial numbers from next Monday. The NHS have been preparing for this for months, so we can expect the system to work well. At some stage during January we should be jabbing two million arms per week, which will rapidly eat into the list of elderly and vulnerable.
The second game changer is the discovery that the first jab of the vaccine (either of the two now approved) affords a high level of protection from becoming seriously ill from Covid. Accordingly, we have decided to postpone the second jab for up to three months and concentrate on giving the first jab to as many people as possible. By Easter therefore a substantial number of us will be vaccinated enabling many restrictions tobe lifted, even though life will not be “normal” for some time.
I want to close by paying tribute to another group: our teachers. They have been heroic in keeping schools open in extremely challenging times and are being asked to do so again during the next three difficult months. I know from family experience how hard they work and the pressure they are under. A big thank you from me.
We are in a tunnel. But there is hope. In the meantime: Hands Face Space.