After all that we endured in 2020, I hope that first readers managed to enjoy a well-deserved break during Christmas and are feeling refreshed and ready for the challenges that 2021 will no doubt bring.
In December, the nation had an early Christmas present when the regulatory agency approved Pfizer/BioNTech’s vaccine for use. After this, we enjoyed the historic moment of the UK becoming the first country in the world to begin the mass vaccination process.
Thanks to the Government’s forward planning, the UK secured 40 million doses of the vaccine before regulatory approval, resulting in the most vulnerable people – including care home residents and all those aged over 80 – beginning to be vaccinated in December.
As Leader of Warwickshire County Council, I was delighted that the vaccine was first administered in University Hospital, Coventry. The fact that the second person to be vaccinated was one William Shakespeare, a fellow resident of the county, added to the occasion.
The Oxford University/AstraZeneca vaccine has also now been approved and is being rolled out. Again, thanks to its forward planning, the Government has secured 100 million doses of this vaccine, which is logistically much easier to distribute.
“The development of these vaccines within a year is a huge achievement for humanity, and I am incredibly grateful to the scientists involved and to all those who participated in the clinical trials.”
As we continue with the mass vaccination rollout, I know that councils and councillors will play a vital role in ensuring the success of this collective national effort, as they have done in so many ways throughout the pandemic.
The vaccines, alongside mass testing, will hopefully allow us to get back to some form of normal life by the spring, thus contributing to economic recovery and, eventually, bringing the pandemic to an end.
As we begin 2021, let us take the opportunity to look forward to better times while also remembering the very difficult year we have had and all those who lost their lives during the pandemic.