Saturday, February 13

Repeat after me: I am definitely going to die but probably not for some considerable time nor from COVID19

For many months now I have been doing my weekly shop at Tesco in Towcester early on a Saturday morning. This avoided the necessity of queueing and, more recently, with queueing not being required, also meant that I encountered few people when travelling round the aisles.

This morning I woke up a little later than usual and so my visit was at about 9am instead of 7:30am. There wasn't a huge difference but I did notice how many more people were around as I moved from the bacon to the bananas. I hesitated often, waiting for someone to move their trolley or leave room for me to reach for some butter. It was only later that it dawned on me that I had been vaccinated three weeks earlier. I was now most unlikely to get COVID19. Even if I did, or a variant of it, I was more likely to be involved in a motor accident on the way home than be seriously ill as a result. The COVID19 family of viruses now should be, to me, of no more concern than 'flu as I have had to look out for in all the years before.

That's quite a thought! It's over. For me, and for all the 15 million others who have now had their injection. We're really not going to get ill from this thing. But it seems very clear that this thought has not really had much, if any, impact on the vast majority of us. It was most odd. I was still slightly scared of other people today. I remember getting particularly worried a month or so ago when a supermarket in Zhytomyr became very busy. I was struggling both mentally and physically to make some space for myself, holding my breath until I could take a gasp which may not contain droplets of the virus I was sure must be being exhaled by at least one of the many people who had come into the warm shop from a freezing outside. I had to get out and it was such a relief to breathe the cold but cleaner air in the street outside. That was then. That was when I was vulnerable and might die from getting the virus, for all I knew, or, like many others we would see on TV, become extremely ill and have to be treated in hospital. Hospital, sadly the one place where it seems people almost definitely do get the virus if they haven't already got it. But that was then. When Ukraine's data for new cases, and certainly the lack of apparent effort by anyone other than the trolleybus ladies to minimise infection meant that I knew I was taking a risk being there. This is now. I am not going to get ill. Well, certainly not any more likely to get ill than in any other year. I have to tell myself this repeatedly and still don't quite believe it.

I am pretty certain that I am actually one of the few who is even thinking this far in the direction of positivity or optimism. I reckon there are massive numbers of old folk still huddled indoors and keeping as far away from anyone else as they possibly can, protecting themselves and 'doing the right thing', letting the State tell them what to do and until it tells them to circulate, act naturally again, this is their life. Locked away and at a distance. They feel safe that way. Why change? Someone says that there may be a variant that their particular brand of vaccine may not control. Someone else reminds them that 90% efficacy means that 10% of people may still catch the virus. These people will usually reckon that they could be one of those 10% and logic is on their side as, yes, they could be. But probability is not on their side and this is what the whole country is soon going to have to wake up to. Yes, some people will still die, even after having the vaccine, even after having the second dose. Indeed, we all have a 100% chance of dying at some point in the future. But the chances of dying from COVID19 are very small, even without the vaccine, With the vaccine they are already at a level which makes several other activities in which we are engaging  without a second thought far more risky. We need to think now that COVID19 is like 'flu in many ways. We may still get it but it is highly unlikely to cause us serious problems and extremely, genuinely extremely unlikely to give those of us who have been vaccinated, and an awful lot of others too, any problems now.

Try and let this thought settle in your mind. 

Yes, there are still dangers. We can carry the virus and transmit it to someone else. As that person may be vulnerable or at a particular risk of a problem from getting COVID19 then we do need still to maintain social distancing. Indeed, we are, at the time of writing, still under Lockdown anyway so none of us can circulate or greet people in the old-fashioned ways, get close to anyone we don't live with or have something called a bubble with. So it can only be a thought. But let it be a good thought. Let it grow and develop into some kind of confidence that this thing is beaten. Just as soon as the majority of the population have had their vaccine injection and there is no new nasty mutation of the virus then we will be free again to live pretty much as normal. Actually, it should be as normal

Once other countries have also defeated the virus or have adequate provision to treat it, it does appear then we should be able to travel freely again too, with people not being subjected to crazy restrictions on arrival or for us to have the same inflicted on landing elsewhere. Already I know of some countries where I could, if the law permitted, fly and not face all sorts of requirements before entering. There may continue to be a few places where the virus has not been properly controlled and risks remain by virtue of a new strain having developed. We should avoid those places and ensure people don't come here from them also. But these places are unlikely to be on our normal schedules for where we want to go. I will be more than happy to have my travels restricted to a few places in Europe, Ukraine and Malta for as long as necessary!

I do understand why I am having to stay at home and being careful with who I meet and how close I get while the rest of the world gets vaccinated. I will be frustrated however at a delay in lifting the Lockdown once all the vulnerable people and, say, over 65s have been vaccinated and no further nasty strains discovered which might still kill me. I will also be frustrated at a continuing plethora of restrictions to travel to places I wish to visit where I see no great risk either to my health or those of the people I may meet there. A test before I travel should be sufficient, plus proof that I'll be OK by virtue of my injection. If they're being really careful then, OK, put me in quarantine too when I get there, just in case I am carrying something, but not in some hotel at £2000 a throw and I certainly should not need this on my return to the UK.

If I don't visit a place with nasty new stuff and we're all pretty much vaccinated to the hilt in the UK then I am not going to cause anyone any harm by returning to my own country.

So, I shall remain patient. But not for long. From here on the delay is purely for the benefit of other people. Let that thought develop. It really is just like 'flu now for me and that didn't bother me. I was familiar with the probabilities then. We all need to be familiar with the probabilities now.

No comments: