Shropshire Star comment: Vaccine approval not without its caveats

The all-clear for the rollout of a vaccine is tremendous news, a great early Christmas present, but one which comes with a lot of caveats.

Vaccine
Vaccine

Indeed, if everyone gets carried away with the idea that it's all over bar the shouting, this could prove the time of maximum danger.

This is not the end, and until significant numbers of people are vaccinated – which given the organisational and logistical challenges will take a while even if all goes smoothly – it cannot even be said to be the beginning of the end.

The reality is that thousands of people in Britain are still going to die over the next few months and that the measures and precautions that are taken now will have a direct bearing on how great a continuing tragedy we are going to see over the winter.

So the joy at the advent of an approved vaccine, with the hope that others will follow in short order, has to be tempered by a collective determination to ensure that there is no slipping back.

To relax now would literally be fatal and lead to unnecessary victims just at the time when we are seeing beacons of hope and statistical evidence that the tough medicine of the latest lockdown has turned the tide of the second wave, at least in England, although the complexity of the situation is reflected by regional variations.

The experience of Wales is salutary. In the wake of its so-called circuit breaker, restrictions were lifted. Rising case numbers have demonstrated that this simply reopened the door to coronavirus. The consequence, heartbreaking for businesses hoping for some sort of recovery in the pre-Christmas period, has been that there is another Welsh clampdown.

For those in power, the decision-making dilemmas are acute. Tough restrictions damage the economy, and have a heavy impact on lives and livelihoods. For the sake of public morale, people need a Christmas, but much mingling amid the jingling will surely be reflected in the number of Covid cases in the New Year.

Matt Hancock says that 2021 will be a better year.

More than ever, then, it is a time to stay safe and not take unnecessary risks to avoid becoming a casualty of a war which, thanks to this vaccine approval, we can at last be assured is going to be won.

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