There is no sugar coating it. The coronavirus pandemic has turned the majority of our experiences and expectations as students completely upside-down. However, advancements towards mass vaccinations for Covid-19 have given us a glimmer of hope that we may return to some form of normality by the end of 2021.
Until just a few weeks ago, the global race to develop a safe vaccine was in full swing and we knew very little about when we could expect vaccination of the general population. The first big breakthrough came from Pfizer and BioNTech at the beginning of November, when results showed their vaccine could stop more than 90% of people developing symptoms of Covid-19.
Since Pfizer and BioNTech announced their achievement, various other companies shortly followed suit with vaccines of varying effectiveness. Here in the UK, the Oxford University-AstraZeneca collaboration have developed a vaccine which is up to 90% effective and can be stored at normal fridge temperatures, cutting out complex logistical issues that other vaccines come with. Now with the first vaccines being approved, millions of doses of this vaccine could be produced and begin to be rolled out by the end of this year.
Due to the Covid-19 virus being most fatal for older people, those living in care homes and the over-80s are listed on the UK’s preliminary priority list as the first groups to receive a vaccine.
These developments have incited much excitement and hope, but there are still hurdles to overcome before we can sensibly visualise the end of the pandemic. For example, the length of any protection given by vaccines is yet to be discovered, and only one vaccine has yet been approved, with limited supply only protecting the most vulnerable categories.
Despite the various challenges of vaccinating millions of people and reaching herd immunity, these advancements are exactly what we have been waiting for. Vaccination is far from a ‘quick fix’, but we are finally on the right track back towards normality. Although it’s too early to say for sure, we have more hope than ever that we’ll be able to hug our nans and be back out on West Street by the end of next year.