Employee Philipp Hoffmann, of German biopharmaceutical company CureVac, demonstrates research workflow on a vaccine for the coronavirus (COVID-19) disease at a laboratory in Tuebingen

An employee of German biopharmaceutical company CureVac, demonstrates research workflow on a vaccine for the coronavirus (COVID-19) disease at a laboratory in Tuebingen, Germany.

13-11-2020Andreas Gebert

There was a palpable sense of relief in the media and on the FTSE 100 when news broke that a Covid-19 vaccine would be available very soon, possibly in time for Christmas. Everyone I spoke with expressed joy that at last there was hope and that we’d all be able to get on with our lives once more, possibly by spring next year.

So far so good. All the same, in the midst of the outpouring of relief, I have met few people who admit willing enough to try the vaccine for themselves. Yesterday in Soller, I chatted with at least ten people of different ages and each time asked whether they’d be happy to have the shot. All told me how happy they were that a vaccine was on the way but not one wanted to try it. It was the same story when I spoke with older and younger friends in the UK. Some have an aversion to anything that’s not natural but many claimed that the vaccine had been rolled out too quickly and could be dangerous while others thought it pointless to take the jab when the virus was mutating so fast. How efficacious might it be?

Of course, conspiracy theorists have a much more thrilling Sci-Fi take on the whole matter. Several FB contacts have bombarded me with videos claiming that our DNA will be irrevocably changed, that the vaccine will allow governments to track and monitor our every move with a tiny inserted chip and that it will become compulsory to have the shot. One video lamented the fact that a luminous light placed on some part of the body would show whether the vaccine had been administered or not. All these videos are hugely watchable and really have the seeds for a roller-coaster fantasy thriller. Shame, that genre isn’t really my game. But honestly, is any of this feasible? Are governments really that bright? I’m very doubtful. As for monitoring our every move, isn’t that possible already with artificial intelligence? The likes of Facebook, google maps and many other apps are tracking us every day and we’re in the main, all willing guinea pigs.

An elderly couple in London told me that the reason why people over 75 were being offered the jab first was so that if it had an adverse effect, their generation would be annihilated first, saving the tax office millions in pension pay outs. Others aged 65 and over have given me the same argument. Even my sister-in-law in Scotland, a very rational older lady, believes the vaccine could be unsafe and would refuse to have it.

By contrast, my 24-year-old son who tested negative last week in Hungary asked me what all the fuss was about and said he’d have no qualms. He insisted that a respected company such as Pfizer which cites that 90 per cent of the public would be protected against developing Covid-19, would not risk its reputation. He makes a good point. So would I take it? In truth, I am not in the age group that would be offered the jab yet anyway, but hand on heart I’d probably prefer to wait. None of us know how we might be affected should we catch the virus, but if it should happen, I’d probably rather take my chances and hope that my immune would fight it off.

A national newspaper conducted a poll among the British public and the majority was positive about taking the vaccine – with the codicil that UK ministers have it first to boost public confidence. Amusingly, one minister said that he’d love to have the chance but it would be wrong of him and other politicians to deprive an elderly person in need. When was the last time a politician cared about old folks? I have only word to say to him : chicken.

A sobering thought

Apparently scientists have developed a revolutionary machine that can chase away hangovers three times faster than by normal methods. This must be music to the ears of millions especially those sinking more than they should during lockdown. The device requires patients to breathe hard into a mask which supplies carbon dioxide and helps to clear traces of alcohol in the system. Although good news, maybe cheaper and more effective would be to cut down on drinking so much? Just saying.

Caffè Nero a has-bean?

I was genuinely saddened to learn that café chain, Caffè Nero is on the brink of insolvency. On my erstwhile frequent trips to London I used to love popping by as the coffee is good and the ambience friendly. I’m not a fan of the other major chains especially as the largest serves possibly the worst coffee I’ve ever drunk. The company is still trading but the situation is rocky as it is for so many. We have to roll out the vaccine, restore consumer confidence and get economies running again at full tilt. If we don’t, we’ll have a great deal more to worry about than catching Covid.

And finally…

What an unseemly fiasco has taken place at Number Ten with an apparent stand-off between BoJo’s fiancée, Carrie Symonds and her chumettes, Munira Mirza, head of the policy unit, and spokesperson, Allegra Stratton, and Dominic Cummings and his bad boys. Lee Cain, head of communications, quit his job having failed to receive an expected promotion to head of staff due to Carrie’s meddling. It seems that his furious bestie, Dominic Cummings, will follow suit though I doubt there’ll be tears shed by many. What is puzzling is how Symonds is allowed to muscle into party politics and government affairs in such a demonstrative way. It’s surely setting a precedent which is neither healthy nor appropriate.

Anna Nicholas’s second Majorca based crime novel, Haunted Magpie, is available at Universal Bookshop, Portals Nous & from 16, November at Come In & Llibres Colom in Palma, also at all good UK bookshops & via amazon.

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