As countries like the UK and US are seeing success in battling COVID and vaccine rollouts are now open to over 40s, it is easy to see the ‘light at the end of the tunnel’. Shops are re-opening, people are meeting outside for a picnic or drink at the pub – many of us are cautiously venturing out of our homes again.
The worldwide scientific community deserves to be celebrated for their mammoth effort in coming together to develop not one, but four (and growing) safe and effective vaccines in such a short space of time. We are already seeing the positive impact they are making to help reduce hospitalization and to keep the pandemic under control.
But even as people start planning ahead for social engagements or dare to book that holiday trip abroad, we still need to exercise caution when it comes to #StoppingTheSpread. Without wanting to be harbingers of doom and gloom, all it takes is looking at countries such as India, Brazil and parts of Europe to see that this pandemic is still devastating populations and far from being under control on a global scale. And until we’ve got COVID under control everywhere around the world, we will not be out of the woods.
In addition to vaccines and testing, practical safety measures like proper hand washing, wearing masks and, yes, social distancing are still the most effective ways of stopping the spread of the virus. Even as lockdown measures are eased for some of us, we still need to think of others and be aware - it is not the time to relegate your face masks to the bottom or your sock drawer or throw out your hand sanitizer just yet.
If you’re lucky enough to be somewhere where COVID numbers are falling rather than rising, remember that being vaccinated is not a free pass. You can still spread the virus, so by all means bundle up and celebrate with an outdoor meal at the pub (if government guidelines allow), but keep a safe distance, don’t leave your face mask at home and #WashYourHands!