Written for Blackmore Vale Magazine, January 2021
Reflecting on the cataclysm that befell Europe in 1914, Churchill said of the Balkans that they “produce more history than can be consumed locally”. And it’s difficult not to feel that we’re living through a period in which the newspapers are the first draft of a history that will be pored over for generations to come.
But as the vaccine roll-out signals (we hope) the approach of the closing chapters, I’m conscious of the enormous logistical efforts that are underway across the country – as well as in our part of Somerset. Having been in touch to offer my support to those tasked with delivering the vaccine in Wincanton, Bruton and beyond, I know the very real challenges they face in delivering those vaccinations we so vitally need.
And as someone with a background in establishing and running small businesses, I find this renewed focus on action rather than rhetoric both refreshing and sobering. It is in the aggregate of thousands of individual efforts (from NHS workers, the human myriad links in the supply chain and the individual responsibility of the public) that deliverance from this latest iteration of lockdown will be found.
We’ve now delivered almost 7 million vaccines, with four out of five of those over 80 having received their first dose. And in the last 24 hours, we’ve seen diplomatic daggers drawn as the European Union have suggested they may prevent some of the 40 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine entering the UK – this to overcome shortages of the vaccine consequent upon the EU’s delay in placing their order.
Of course, the pandemic is a global problem – and will only be eradicated through concerted, supra-national action. But as the UK placed its order three months before the EU belatedly did so, a more smoothly operating distribution network is to be expected. In insisting that AstraZeneca honour their contract with the UK Government, we are not asking for preferential treatment, only fairness. And that’s the least NHS staff – and the vulnerable to whom this vaccine offers so much hope – deserve.