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Editor's Viewpoint

Rollout of vaccine is something to cheer about

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'Our nearest neighbour the Irish Republic and other countries across Europe struggle to roll out the new coronavirus vaccine, and the USA faces lamentably poor take-up which is not helped by fantasy stories of government mind-control.' (Russell Cheyne/PA)

'Our nearest neighbour the Irish Republic and other countries across Europe struggle to roll out the new coronavirus vaccine, and the USA faces lamentably poor take-up which is not helped by fantasy stories of government mind-control.' (Russell Cheyne/PA)

'Our nearest neighbour the Irish Republic and other countries across Europe struggle to roll out the new coronavirus vaccine, and the USA faces lamentably poor take-up which is not helped by fantasy stories of government mind-control.' (Russell Cheyne/PA)

During the first 10 months of the pandemic there hasn't been much here to inspire pride. A litany of delayed, and some bad, decision-making which has been compounded by the Stormont infighting, is unedifying.

Finally there is something about which we can take a scintilla of pride. Our nearest neighbour the Irish Republic and other countries across Europe struggle to roll out the new coronavirus vaccine, and the USA faces lamentably poor take-up which is not helped by fantasy stories of government mind-control.

Yet in Northern Ireland - almost unbelievably - we seem to have avoided making a hash of it.

Today we feature the heart-rending story of Tom Hughes, who was left paralysed down one side after a brain aneurysm seven years ago. For the past two years the Clonlee Nursing Home in Antrim has been his home. Due to coronavirus he has not been able to feel the touch of a loved one for nine months.

All that will change from today. Tom has already received the first dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccination, and today he is getting the second.

He can now look forward to being reunited with his family. Also receiving her second vaccine dose today is grandmother Audrey Smyth (83).

She has also been living in Clonlee Nursing Home for almost four years.

It is impossible to find words to express adequately what the vaccine means to people like this. One of the cruellest aspects of Covid-19 has been the way it isolates people. Fortunately, the roll-out of the vaccine gives people the prospect of a normal life again.

Pandemics do not lend themselves to self-congratulation. Too many people have died and too many are living with the long-term consequences of the coronavirus for that.

Therefore everyone who played their part, however big or small, in getting the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine to people like Audrey and Tom should take a big bow today.

Belfast Telegraph


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