With each passing week, there are further reasons to be optimistic for our future here in Cheltenham. Although the numbers in our hospitals remain high, the rate of infection is slowing and is well below the England average.
Crucially too, a study by the University of Oxford measuring the impact of the Oxford-Astrazeneca vaccine which many have received at Cheltenham East Fire Station, is really positive for three reasons.
First, it found that the reduction in transmission amongst those who had received a dose was “substantial”. Second, it concluded that the vaccine offered 76% effective protection from a single dose for three months, with no fall in protection over that period. Third, the effectiveness of the vaccine actually increases with a longer gap of twelve weeks before the booster jab.
As a result, Prof Andrew Pollard, chief investigator of the Oxford vaccine trial, said the results supported the UK's approach to delaying the booster shot.
It was also really encouraging to see such a positive focus in the national media on the rollout in Cheltenham’s care homes. BBC, ITV and Channel 4 all reported on the excellent work that has been done locally, including in Faithfull House in Suffolk Square – one of several Lilian Faithfull care homes in Gloucestershire.
Meanwhile, there’s no doubt the UK is in a strong position internationally when it comes to the rollout. We have now vaccinated nearly ten million people across the UK, which includes 931,204 vaccinations just last weekend. Nine in ten of all over 80s in the UK and over half of all people in their 70s have received a jab.
We know we’ve still got some way to go. The cancellation by Cheltenham Town FC of their matches with Barrow and Carlisle because of a local outbreak is a reminder of the threat that this cruel virus still poses.
But thanks to the ingenuity of our scientists, we can echo with growing confidence the memorable observation of the late, great, Captain Sir Tom Moore: tomorrow will be a good day.