FINALLY, do we have some reason to hope?
After the worst nine months for humanity since the Second World War, which has seen deaths spiral and many of our liberties smashed indefinitely, could an American vaccine provide a path back to normal life?
US drug company Pfizer, the stock market and increasingly desperate politicians around the world certainly hope so – and the early results are indeed promising.
Unveiling what the company clearly deemed to be a momentous announcement as US markets opened, Pfizer hailed its vaccine trial rate of 90 per cent effectiveness as “about the best the news could possibly be for the world and for the United States and for public health”.
I hope and pray the pharmaceutical giant is right and this vaccine is a silver bullet – completely safe, full proof, cheap and able to be distributed on a mass scale.
It would be a great victory for science over a dastardly virus irresponsibly exported to the world out of China.
But there must be caution today, too: These are interim findings based on tests of 43,500 people in six countries and vaccines like this usually take five years to develop.
The next challenge is to convince most of the world a vaccine developed so rapidly is safe to be injected with.
That’s why in my Sun column in September I wrote about the need for the government to stop making decisions based on short-termism that risk splintering public support to such an extent that the public are offside for the great vaccination effort of 2021.
It’s obviously a real conundrum: How to keep the trust of those sceptical about increased government controls so that they agree to be vaccinated?
Polls on both sides of the Atlantic have showed some signs of public concern about a vaccine. Over 20 per cent of Brits say they are unlikely to accept a Covid vaccine, for example.
Anecdotally I’ve been asking my colleagues about the vaccine today.
While almost all are happy with the concept and desperate for life to return to normal, when I asked if they would be happy to take the vaccine, many awkwardly admitted they didn’t yet feel comfortable. The feeling is even stronger when talking about loved ones being vaccinated.
This is why trust is so important in the next phase of the government’s response.
Boris Johnson needs the British public to feel confident that we’re being told the truth and nothing but the truth in every Covid announcement from here on in.
The dodgy modelling to justify unnecessary lockdowns has to end.
So too does outdated scaremongering of 4,000 deaths and claims of ice rinks being used as morgues by the doom mongers Chris Whitty and Patrick Vallance.
The Prime Minister’s official spokesman today said of the vaccine: “The NHS stands ready to begin a vaccination programme for those most at risk once a Covid-19 vaccine is available before being rolled out more widely.
“In total, we’ve procured 40 million doses of the Pfizer candidate vaccine, with ten million of those doses being manufactured and available to the UK by the end of the year if the vaccine is approved by the regulators.”
That’s promising, but there is a growing trust deficit between officials and many concerned members of the public, fearful we are being fed misinformation to justify shutting down the country.
Such a gulf could make a potential vaccine rollout far more difficult – the government must take that into account.