IT was a landmark day yesterday in the UK. The British government dubbed it ‘V-day’, or vaccination day, and the first person to receive the approved Pfizer vaccine against COVID-19 was a 90-year-old Northern Irish woman.
The second, amusingly, was a man by the name of William Shakespeare, leading to social media dubbing the day “The Taming of the Flu”. COVID-19 is worse than the flu, of course, but we’ll take the smiles where we can get them this year.
As we watch from afar, the thought turns to when will we get our vaccines?
The UK has been the first out of the gate to approve one of the major vaccine candidates – although Russia and China both have their own vaccines they have started administering. Scientists further afield say neither of those countries have finished the late-stage trials considered essential in vaccine testing.
The Pfizer vaccine might be the one we get – but there are others, from companies such as Moderna and AstraZeneca. Not all vaccines are the same – some for example require extra freezer equipment. The Pfizer vaccine has to be kept at minus 80 degrees. Another, being worked on by teams in Oxford, England, can be stored at much warmer temperatures. That might be a consideration in rolling out to the Family Islands and locations which might not have facilities ready to store vaccines.
Health Minister Renward Wells said yesterday that The Bahamas is waiting for the World Health Organisation to approve which vaccine we are likely to receive. We have put down our downpayment of $250,000, and will pay $1.6m, with us in line to receive 80,000 doses.
Those 80,000 doses of course will not be enough – but they will be a start. Those doses might need two injections per person, so they might treat just 40,000 people, or about a tenth of the country. To truly stop the virus, we will need more people with immunity than that.
Who will get those? We hope that list has been made clear already. Healthcare workers and those who are vulnerable ought to be at the top. The essential workers who have kept our country going ought to get the jab so they can keep it going.
Yesterday was a landmark day, but it was not the end. Rather, it is the start of the end. It’s up to us all now to see it through.
For many, thinking about COVID-19 has been a matter of life and death. There has been genuine fear over the number of deaths that the virus causes – and rightly so.
But survival does not necessarily mean a full recovery, or a quick one.
For Henry Dean, his struggles with COVID-19 have been going on for two months, and long past the time he recovered from the virus itself.
In its wake, it left him fighting to breathe normally. He says how even now, weeks later, he is only 90 percent recovered to his previous fitness, and is still regaining strength in his limbs.
Elsewhere, people have described long-term symptoms such as headaches, depression, brain fog, a pounding heart and more. In Tuesday’s Tribune, our health columnist, Dr Greggory Pinto, detailed studies suggesting it could lead to male infertility.
So when we talk about the battle against COVID-19, it’s not only the mortality rate that we face, but the lingering aftermath for so many.
There is so much we still have to learn about how this virus affects people – so don’t take a chance. Be safe. Wear a mask. Wash your hands. Keep your distance. Why risk it?