Happy New Year. Happy Lockdown. Stay safe and hope you stay sane. What a start to 2021. The primary focus of our government should be the roll-out of the vaccines. Why is it that there is a fairly widespread impression that this is not being treated with sufficient sense of urgency. On Wednesday it was reported that Israel had already vaccinated 5.2% of its population. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says he aims to have over 2 million of the 9.2 million population vaccinated by the end of the month. Interestingly they also intend to issue “Green Passports” to those who have been inoculated. An excellent idea but so far seems beyond the capabilities of the HSE. We have known for months that the vaccinations were coming. We also know that they are the only way out of this nightmare, so the question remains, have all avenues to recruit those required to administer the vaccine being pursued ? If there is a problem with supply has this been raised at EU level or with the producer ? To put all of this in context, on Monday the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine will be rolled out to GP practices in Northern Ireland and it will in turn be available to their most vulnerable patients. This programme will run parallel to the Pfizer vaccine. Oh do I wish that this was the case in the Republic. The Oxford vaccine has yet to be approved by the European Medicines Agency. To repeat again, time saved saves lives.
As we enter 2021 we need to understand that things are going to get very rough. In fact in retrospect it has to be asked whether the government should have heeded NPHET advice and, however difficult, imposed a lockdown prior to Christmas. Now it is critical that we all restrict our movements to the absolute minimum. This is a killer disease and too many of us have known somebody who has died. In 7 to 10 days time a tidal wave is going to hit our hospitals. Spare a thought, and indeed a prayer, for the front-line staff who are going to have to deal with it. They are already truly exhausted.
So what does 2021 hold for us ? Well on January 20th America will turn the page on one of the most disastrous, divisive and dangerous presidencies in its history. However, don’t rule out more ridiculous shenanigans before Trump slinks off to Palm Beach. He returned unexpectedly to Washington on Thursday, doubtless to stir up as much trouble as possible. Republican Senator John Hawley has announced he will object to the Electoral College result when Congress meets on Wednesday. This is a stunt but Trump is trying his damnedest to damage the incoming Biden presidency. The sinister aspect to all of this is it also undermines democracy by seeking to delegitimise Biden. Trump might seek to interfere with the inauguration. So it is with some relief that I hear there is going to be change in Biden’s Secret Service detail. Between now and 20th January let us hope there isn’t an international crisis.
So I look forward to 2021 as I did 40 years ago in 1981 with some degree of trepidation. Then dark clouds hung over our island. 1981 was the year of the first show at Slane. Light out of the darkness. May 2021 bring light to you all.