“May you live in interesting times” is a term from the far east, and it is a curse. 2020 feels like that, interesting for all the wrong reasons. But I have a reason to be cheerful, on my left upper arm is a vaccination scar, which probably marks me out as a boomer, sorry about that.
Millennials do not have that scar, mine is a BCG scar from my TB vaccination, but these are no longer given as part of the routine in the UK, the reason is that they worked. Other people have scars left from the smallpox vaccine, that too is no longer given, smallpox has been eradicated. The vaccine worked.
Yes, Covid-19 has been the dominant thing in the world this year. What started as an isolated outbreak of a new version of the SARS coronavirus in Wuhan, China, spread worldwide. On December 28th this year the BBC reported that journalist Zhang Zhan, who had reported the situation in Wuhan by podcast which was spread by social media, had been jailed for ‘picking quarrels and provoking trouble.’ Whatever the present situation is in China we do not know, China is a secretive place.
I am not blaming the Chinese for Covid, new diseases can come from anywhere, usually when a disease jumps from an animal. Ebola came from fruit bats, Aids from African chimpanzees, MERS from camels in the Middle East, Mexican pig flu speaks for itself and there was the jump between BSE in cattle to CJD in humans which happened in the UK. (Source Professor Chris Whitty, Gresham College September 2018.)
But there is light at the end of the tunnel. The first people to be vaccinated outside tests against Covid-19 got the second shot of two yesterday, 29th December, and are expected to be immune after 7 days. Vaccines are the best news. I have already mentioned my scar from the BCG vaccine, and that smallpox is almost totally eradicated. Other diseases like flu, another form of coronavirus, are constantly mutating so the vaccine needs to be tweaked. I get my flu jab every September.
One vaccine is already being used, another two almost ready and who knows how many more to come. Things will get better, but not yet. In 2020 I missed celebrating, Easter, Pentecost and Christmas in church, plus a trip on our Wedding Anniversary in April and the summer holidays were scrapped though we did get a few days away as a couple for my wife’s birthday. in 2021 I expect no celebration of my birthday and for Easter and Pentecost to still not celebrated fully in churches. The recovery has just started and will take time.
An update this morning, the Oxford University, Astrazeneca vaccine has been approved, the British government has bought enough for 50 million doses which will start being run our mid January at 1 million doses per week, so that’s all year then. That’s the first dose, the second is 12 weeks later. I’m hoping for a big celebration by Easter 2022, hopefully earlier.
Our church, like many others in 2020, has seen more interest through its online services and online Alpha course. I have have also had increased readership to this blog. It has only ever been a very small blog, growing very slowly, but during the Covid lockdown it is attracting two and a half times the readership that I had at the beginning of the year. I expect the number to decrease after Covid, but hello and welcome to all my new readers. If readers leave when Covid leaves I will be happy. If you stay I will be even happier.
Tomorrow night I will be staying up until after midnight. Not to welcome the new year in, but to make sure 2020 leaves.