There may finally appear to be some light at the end of the tunnel this week as Pfizer revealed that interim clinical trial results for its Coronavirus vaccine suggest it to be 90% effective. The Government is making plans for its rollout through GP surgeries and hospital sites with the aim to target priority and vulnerable groups first.
We need to be a little cautious in our optimism as there are great logistical challenges to be overcome in terms of the manufacture and very cold storage and distribution of this “messenger RNA” vaccine. More work needs to be done on gauging its effectiveness in terms of the most serious cases and stopping transmission, as well as in continuing to monitor safety.
It is also certainly the case that we all need to keep observing the current restrictions as they stand. Whilst I opposed the one size fits all approach to lockdown it is in force and we must do our best to be part of the effort to reduce transmission over the next couple of weeks so that hopefully we can return to a relatively unrestricted status.
We have been desperately in need of good news and, despite the need to be patient as further work is done, the announcement has lifted the spirits of many and our hopes for next year. Confidence is such an important factor for the economy as well as the health of the nation in general. It will take time to rebuild things, to deal with the financial costs and to create new jobs to replace those lost, but the sense of moving forward will be a significant boost.
Ofsted have this week published a review that shows how tough this year has been on children of school and pre-school age in terms of their learning and development as well as levels of stress and anxiety. Even at the milder end of this, many parents have seen their children wake up more at night or maybe not behave as well as usual at times.
The Government has been right to prioritise education and keeping schools open and I am in touch with local teachers and the Department for Education about plans for the rest of this academic year. My own view is that if at all possible exams should go ahead next year and perhaps some of them could be slimmed down to reflect the loss of classroom time. On a lighter note, I hope in particular that younger children are able to enjoy some very special birthday parties in 2021.
This year it has been very sad not to be able to mark Remembrance Day as we would have liked. The Royal British Legion does amazing work throughout the year in Somerset and across the country helping our veterans. Normally the Poppy appeal is by far its biggest fundraiser and sadly it has been very hard to run this year. The Government has put together a £750 million package to back charities at this time but if you are able to support the RBL or another charity that means something to you then you can do so online and your help will be hugely appreciated. As always, if I can be of any help please do email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01935314321.