DECEMBER 9TH - PROTECTION
Yesterday Margaret Keenan, a 90-year-old grandmother from Coventry, became the first person in the world to be vaccinated against Coronavirus. Closer to home, the first Welsh recipient of the protective jab was Craig Atkins in Ebbw Vale. For Margaret, Craig and thousands more people around the UK, yesterday saw the first step towards a post-COVID-19 world in which the virus that’s dominated our lives in 2020 will no longer be a threat. Eleven days after receiving the first dose of the vaccine, recipients will start to build immunity. Nine days on from that, they get a second dose, and one week later they will be fully immune. It takes four weeks for the process to be complete, but after almost a year of uncertainty and fear, this represents a bright light at the end of the tunnel.
It’s also a reminder of the power of pharmaceutical companies to improve lives. Let’s hope that power extends to everyone who needs it in 2021.
In 2019 nine African countries came together to form a procurement alliance, working together to give tens of millions of people better access to vaccines against diseases that we in Britain don’t have to give a second thought to. If you live in Algeria, Botswana, Cabo Verde, Eswatini, Gabon, Mauritius, Namibia, São Tomé and Príncipe or the Seychelles, your family and your government probably lack the resources to protect you against diseases that present a daily threat to life. As admirable as it is for these countries to join forces and work together, surely they shouldn’t have to do it without outside help? Surely this year’s experience has underlined that everyone deserves protection?
There’s a type of protection that doesn’t rely on drug companies, of course, and in 2020 it was offered by and to the people of Cwmbwrla every day. It’s the type of protection you get from a neighbour who picks up the phone or knocks on your door and asks “how can I help?”. So well done to Pfizer and BioNTech for developing the vaccine, but let’s not forget the people who’ve been offering unselfish, unpaid protection to others day after day throughout this confusing and challenging year. In the eyes of the community, they are the real heroes of 2020.