This week I have to admit to feeling pretty depressed and central to this is the vaccine, or lack of it. Because my immune system is highly compromised I have been self-isolating for almost a year and I know there are many others like me. It doesn’t end there. Because of my condition and, indeed, the requirement of my ongoing treatment, I have to make periodic visits to hospital. Every one of these visits fills me with dread because of the potential exposure to Covid. This Covid anxiety is heightened by a narrow escape I experienced during a recent stay in hospital. Covid anxiety is very real and people suffer from it to different degrees. In front of me I see an endless cycle of rolling Covid anxiety with no end in sight. Then imagine my sense of disbelief on Thursday when Stephen Donnelly announces the arrival of 21,000 doses of AstraZeneca which he calls a “big day”. Then we learn that they won’t be administered until next week. I don’t think the Minister or, indeed, the government, has any concept how the vulnerable, who are effectively trapped in their homes, feel. I consider myself lucky because I have space to roam. Otherwise I would fear for my sanity. This is why when I hear Paul Reid of the HSE say he is “excited” about the roll-out I want to scream. Take a look at our neighbour, they have vaccinated millions. Scotland has managed 1 million, yet we have vacillated over the use of AstraZeneca and seemed trapped in a supply chain designed by the now discredited President of the European Commission, Ursula van der Leyen, known as a VDL or very damaged leader. Now the government has said they will have vaccinated the over 70’s by mid May. In comparison it looks pathetic.
We share a common travel area with the UK. We share a border with the UK. So many of us have family and friends in the UK, who in many instances have had their first jab. Yet our authorities and government persist in only making comparisons with other countries in the EU. Well how about Hungary, they have purchased from the Russians. Viktor Orban stated “ We need the vaccine because that means life”. Germany has purchased an extra 50 million doses from Pfizer Biontech. Nobody has really provided an answer as to whether this breaks the rules of the joint EU Purchase Scheme. Still, back to where I started with the vulnerable. By mid-May it is not impossible that everyone in Northern Ireland will have been vaccinated. Then where does that leave the people of the Republic. It think it would be fair to say pretty bloody disgruntled.
When will our government start acting in the nation’s interests ? We should approach the British government to see if they could assist us in getting extra doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine. Surely to God in the face of a pandemic we can move beyond the chains in which the EU’s policy has placed us. The primary objective of our government must be to defend the health and well-being of the people. There are institutions and structures through which this could be facilitated. Are the vulnerable to wait months to be protected. It will, as one of my readers said “Lead to unnecessary deaths”. Micheal Martin is without doubt a caring man. Now he must lead and, incidentally, get the vaccine to go to Washington.