The Prime Minister had a cautious approach when discussing Pfizer’s breakthrough achievement, indicating there are “several more” hurdles to follow
The development of a coronavirus vaccine has “cleared one significant hurdle but there are several more to go,” Boris Johnson has said.
In his address to the nation last night, Johnson acknowledged the vaccination’s promising 90 per cent success rate, according to research, but cautioned against the population perceiving the remarkable advancement as a cure or an excuse to be less vigilant.
He warned people not to “rely on this news as a solution” to the pandemic.
“The biggest mistake we could make now would be to slacken our resolve at a critical moment,” he said, in a moment of necessary and intelligent foresight for the sometimes hapless Prime Minister.
Johnson’s Prime Ministerial appointment has been arguably characterised by a certain bluster and sense that ‘everything will work out in the end.’ When it comes to the vaccine, however, Johnson delivered the news with a remarkable realism, perhaps bordering on sombreness, and his message is clear: “it’s still very early days.”
England’s Deputy Chief Medical Officer, Jonathan Van-Tam, and other medical experts have warned that the vaccine will not impact the second lockdown the UK and indeed some of the wider world are experiencing, i.e. this vaccine is categorically not an excuse to return to normality.
It came as a further 21,350 coronavirus cases were reported in the UK on Monday, along with 194 deaths within 28 days of a positive test.
It is likely that Johnson’s cautionary pessimism is to avoid the public becoming complacent about the lockdown rules that are in force, as the UK has only recently gone into this second lockdown phase.
The UK Government has reported an order of 20 million dosages, which is enough for 10 million people as the vaccine must be administered twice to be fully effective.
Jonathan Van-Tam said he was “hopeful” the first vaccine could be in action by Christmas and there would be a “much better horizon” by spring.
Speaking alongside Mr Johnson at the Downing Street press conference, Professor Van-Tam indicated, like Johnson, that there was more work to be done before it became available to the public, stressing the importance of safety and effectiveness over quick impulse decisions.
“This is a very important scientific breakthrough. I am certain of that,” he said.
He said age would be the “biggest priority” when drawing up a list of who would be able to access the new vaccine, with care home residents and staff some of the first in line to receive the vaccine in proposals, with health workers also receiving priority.
The British Medical Association said it expects “vaccine availability to be limited to begin with, meaning only small numbers of vaccine may be given in December and most vaccinations taking place in early 2021.”
Overall, the take away is positive, but be vigilant and cautious – the beginning of the end of this pandemic may be on the way, but we have a long and arduous journey to go, with safety and efficiency rightly at the forefront of Westminster’s policies. The horizon looks a little clearer now, and we can begin to start imagining a future without COVID.
Featured Image Credit: BBC/Daily Mail/Rachel Swan