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Small Steps to Freedom

February 15, 2021.

There are a significant number of people throughout the UK (and elsewhere) who harbour misgivings about the vaccines that have been speedily produced to help with efforts against COVID-19 and do not wish to have them. Some have been heavily criticised for this stance on social media but there are those in favour of vaccination who can equally be criticised for the manner of their own comments.

Whichever side of the fence one sits on, the pace at which vaccines have been made available in the UK is commendable – provided these drugs are safe to use and are effective. The former point is the one that concerns most doubters and this is entirely understandable. But it is the latter that is taxing the minds of many.

We have steadfastly maintained that vaccines are not the silver bullet they have been made out to be and this has been reinforced by government messages now saying that despite the rollout, lockdowns will need to stay in place – because, apparently, the vaccines will not stop people being infected with COVID-19, nor will they prevent transmission. In which case, what is the point of them?

We have been promised the lockdown nightmare would come to an end once we have a vaccine.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock has described the vaccine rollout as ‘small steps to freedom’ but what does he mean by ‘small steps?’ He has also said that decisions will be made this week in readiness for the Prime Minister’s announcement a week today on the roadmap out of lockdown.

Whatever the announcement contains, ‘small steps’ are all very well but the fact remains it can take years to develop vaccines against any diseases that are truly safe and effective.

Meanwhile, with the world’s populations forcibly corralled in their homes, the one thing we do need is not happening – out own immune systems are not learning to fight COVID-19. No matter how good a vaccine may be all viruses and their resultant conditions will evolve and develop. They always have and flu does every year. But although flu vaccines do help, they don’t prevent it. Neither will the much vaunted COVID-19 vaccines. Yes, they will help but the ultimate defence against any disease comes from within ourselves.

Some of us are better at this than others. Some, for many reasons, have weaker immune systems. Some do not make it. This is tragic but has been a sad fact of life (and death) since we first walked the earth. And overall, despite those we lose, humankind isn’t too bad at fighting off infections. If we weren’t we would have been wiped out a very long time ago.

It is the biggest indictment of lockdowns; that we are forced in to not developing our own immune systems to disease – systems that will become even less effective against all other infections as well as COVID-19 if we are not exposed to them.

For the sake of our health, physically, emotionally and economically, lockdowns must end permanently, with the rights and freedoms we expect and are entitled to returned, never to be taken away again for any reason, by any government.

Image © Michael Coghlan


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