Jabs – we don’t know how lucky we are!

I was jabbed on Friday, on Saturday I got an invitation from University College Hospital to get a jab, so long as I hadn’t had a jab. I wrote to them declining but asking for my jab to go to someone more vulnerable. Having had Covid, the jab set off my immune system over the weekend and my body must have resembled a construction site, it certainly felt like every corpuscle was back off furlough and readying me for imminent attack.

But I was and am both happy and grateful to be vaccinated. Stella and I even took our Sunday walk out to the vaccination station on the banks of Hackney’s West Reservoir to relive the happy moment.

I have two immediate thoughts. Firstly, that if -as Tim Harford has worked out – my vaccination makes me 20 times less likely to die from a second attack of Covid. This is equivalent to taking 20 years off my age which puts me (for Covid purposes) in my thirties  again. That doesn’t feel like “invulnerable” and it certainly doesn’t mean I’m not a potential spreader. I will not stop masking-up and I won’t be flouting any social distancing rules. Because I am lucky with the vaccine doesn’t mean others have to be unlucky with my breath.

Secondly, we as a nation are in a very good place.

More than half of adults in rich countries will still be waiting to receive a first dose of coronavirus vaccine in 15 months’ timey lucky relative to 59 year olds in other countries. The FT reports this morning of logistical issues preventing 59 year olds in our European neighbors expecting the jab this year. In an article entitled ”

Most adults in rich nations face long wait for vaccine”

the FT quotes Kuehne and Nagel’s CEO as saying

” More than half of adults in rich countries will still be waiting to receive a first dose of coronavirus vaccine in 15 months’ time”

He also predicts that most adults in poorer countries will be unlikely to get jabbed by 2023. We don’t know how lucky we are in the UK where the vaccine is not only available but in distribution with the prospect of a high level of immunity for everyone within months.

Who would have thought that the first Brexit dividend would be an unshackling from the slow horse of European vaccine roll-out?  The EU has come under fire for failing to procure sufficient doses fast enough. Across the bloc, just 8.8 jabs for every 100 citizens have been administered.

The K&N CEO continues

“In Europe we are too strict with our rules. Other countries show that if you want you can get your injections in the supermarkets or [from] your normal doctor. We have so many rules and we are so over-engineered — I’m talking Germany more than anybody else [in Europe] — that there will be no mass vaccination if we continue like this.”

Britain has made many bad mistakes over Covid, many highlighted by data from the Covid actuaries response group on these pages. The lack of protection for those in care homes, the hopeless procurement of PPE, the failure to learn the importance of masks from Far Eastern nations and the foolish under-development of track and trace all riled us.

But while this was (or wasn’t) going on, we were busy trialing drugs to protect us and buying huge amounts of vaccine on spec. These massive bets dwarfed earlier failed bets and these bets paid off. We now have sufficient vaccines to be offering me a double dose!

As I chatted to the lady administering my jab, it turned out she had been involved in the Novavax trials, which I had nearly been a part of myself (I was precluded for a pre-existing condition).

Britain is about to approve its vaccine and will be pre-purchasing stockpiles of this drug (which is particularly effective against the South African variant) well in advance of other countries.

In America, Novavax could leapfrog over rivals in the race to approval because the US Food and Drug Administration is considering authorising its use based on already-released UK trial data.

We are lucky – but we are brave!

Vaccine hesitation rates are tiny in the UK , relative to our neighbors on the continent. My vaccinator told me that Novavax had an overwhelmingly positive response from those which it approached in the UK, despite 50% of those it trialed getting a placebo. It appears that we are fearless.

People who don’t take up their offer of a jab in this country are regarded as at best awkward or at worst downright anti-social. This is not the case elsewhere.

We should be proud to have been not just at the forefront of vaccine development , but of testing too. We should be proud of our high vaccine take-up rates and proudest of the amazing logistical achievement of getting jabs into our arms.

Though I was woozy over the weekend, I knew it was for good, my body getting anti-bodied up.  For those who haven’t had Covid, reports are that the vaccination makes no difference to the activities of daily living.

I hope that anyone yet to be vaccinated, will take away from this article the essential message. “We don’t know how lucky we are”. We are able to be vaccinated and we should be absolutely grateful for it.

About henry tapper

Founder of the Pension PlayPen,, partner of Stella, father of Olly . I am the Pension Plowman
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1 Response to Jabs – we don’t know how lucky we are!

  1. Peter D Beattie says:

    Well done Henry being ‘brave’. At least we are not ‘protectionist or autocratic’ – ‘no risk, no gain’ keep pressing ‘the envelope’.

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