Brexit continues to give Roger Ratcliffe the needle

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All I want for Christmas is an anti-Brexit jab. And if I’m really good, Santa, may I have an anti-Covid one too?

Sadly, though, it may have taken eight months to develop an effective vaccine against the pandemic that has ruled and ruined so many lives this year, but it will require at least a generation to cure the damage caused by the epidemic of lies about Europe spread by the Johnsons, Farages, Goves and Rees-Moggs, and turn back the clock to those happy days when many of us knew which side our ciabatta was buttered. Actually, I suspect a fair number of those who voted for Brexit now realise it’s going to be the UK’s biggest oven-ready turkey this Christmas.

Hey-ho. At least that real vaccine is now being rolled out, and I will peep at the new day from beneath my duvet on 1 January with a little more enthusiasm.

That’s despite having a fear of jabs. I put my needle phobia down to my older brother and sister winding me up about the excruciating pain they endured when given the TB vaccine, something I awaited with terror when I started secondary school. To heighten my anxiety about vaccines yet further, prior to setting off on a foreign assignment for the Sunday Times I was sent to see the paper’s in-house nurse, Sister Annie, who stuck a syringe in my bum to stop me getting yellow fever. I promptly passed out.

This time I’ll try to be stoical. The only thing that worries me is that I may be given the “wrong” Covid-19 vaccine. By that I mean it’s somewhat troubling that the first to be rolled out, developed in Germany by Pfizer-BioNtech, is 95 per cent effective while our homegrown jab from Oxford University and AstraZeneca – the one most of us are likely to receive – is said to have an efficacy of 70 per cent.

Then there’s the vaccine from US biotech company Moderna (95 per cent), the somewhat sniffily-received Russian Sputnik V jab (efficacy unknown), and at least another 50 currently undergoing human trials. There are unknowns about all of them, such as how long protection lasts and whether they will prevent those who’ve been vaccinated from still picking up the virus and passing it on. We won’t be able to choose which one we get, and it would be ironic if, like those blind tastings of mince pies that always seem to rate Aldi’s much higher than posh offerings by Betty’s of Harrogate or Fortum & Mason of Piccadilly, Putin’s vaccine is the only one that gets five stars.

Still, it was a great day when the first Covid-19 jab was administered last week, and in the You Couldn’t Make It Up department it was amazing that the second injection was given to someone named William Shakespeare. Not to be outdone, I suppose Nicola Sturgeon will order the length and breadth of Scotland to be scoured for an octogenarian called Robert Burns.

Apparently, even with 40 million of us receiving the vaccine by next autumn we will continue to require face masks until herd immunity kicks in. That seems a long way off, and the only herd immunity of interest right now is for Santa’s reindeers. Merry Christmas and a Covid-free New Year.

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