Digested week: Covid vaccine and Cummings exit offer hope … of sorts | John Crace
It will take months to roll out immunisation, and the PM’s top adviser is leaving just in time to avoid his Brexit aftermath
As many of you will know, my default responses to most situations are mistrust and despair. Yet today I listened to the news and felt something approaching hope. My mood had lifted over the weekend when it became clear Joe Biden had won the US presidential election and that the world was going to be a safer and more stable place after four years of Donald Trump. That feeling was deepened this morning when I heard that there was a genuine contender for a successful coronavirus vaccine in the near future. There’s sure to be a biopic of Uğur Şahin and Özlem Türeci – the husband and wife team behind BioNTech – already in development. Suddenly it felt like there was a way back to normality that didn’t involve repeated lockdowns and testing. It would be so nice to wake up in the morning without a feeling of both intense anxiety and loneliness. I have missed my work friends and colleagues dreadfully and hadn’t realised how much I depended on them. Then, of course, I had to spoil the moment by doing the maths. The UK has secured 40m doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine – enough for 20 million people – and I wasn’t sure whether I would make the cut as I was only in tier 8 (out of 11) in order of priority to get the jab. I then read that even working flat out, the government estimated it would only be able to give about 1m vaccinations a week, meaning that it would take the best part of a year to roll out the current stocks – even if other vaccines proved successful in the interim. Still, the hope was nice while it lasted.
Today is the 25th birthday of our son – our youngest child – and somehow it feels far more significant than either his 18th or his 21st because back then he was at university and had yet to give much thought to what sort of life or career he might want. Robbie is now indisputably an adult – he’s far more grown up and sorted than I was at his age – and though I take pleasure and pride in the man he’s become I can’t help missing the younger, more dependent version who was happy, among other things, to come along to football matches with me. I’m also not entirely sure where all the intervening years have gone though his actual birth is etched in my memory as, like his sister before him, he was whisked off to intensive care moments after he was born – though thankfully he wasn’t in anything like the critical state Anna had been. Still, at least it has never been hard knowing what to give Robbie for his birthday as he’s always in need of cash. All year he has been saving for the moment he turned 25 and his car insurance became cheaper. What he really wants is a van (a 2004 Toyota Hiace with 100,000 miles on the clock) in which he and his girlfriend can bung some surfboards and a sleeping bag so they can spend their weekends and holidays at campsites by the sea with a few other friends in their vans. Now the moment has arrived when that possibility becomes more of a financial reality and he has spent much of the last month eyeing up potential contenders. May the van of his dreams rise up to meet him.