The Queen reiterates her influential support for the Covid vaccine programme, which is the main route out of lockdown

News Letter editorial of Friday February 26 2021:

By Editorial
Friday, 26th February 2021, 9:00 am
News Letter editorial
News Letter editorial

The Queen spoke to the four senior responsible officers overseeing the delivery of the vaccine in the four nations of the UK yesterday.

Dr Naresh Chada, deputy chief medical officer for Northern Ireland, told the monarch of his “absolute faith ... that we will keep one step ahead of the virus”.

The Queen was hearing from the experts earlier this week after 18 million people had been vaccinated. In Northern Ireland we are well on the way to 600,000 people — one third of the population — having had their jobs.

It was important to hear the head of state encouraging people who are hesitant about getting the vaccination to think of others “rather than themselves” and also to hear her say that the injection it had not hurt.

There has not on the whole been a problem in the UK with vaccine take up, with only small numbers of people refusing to get the jab, unlike in some cultures where there are very high levels of suspicion about vaccines.

Hearing of prominent figures getting vaccinated against Covid or, even better, seeing them do so, such as the US president Joe Biden, has sent out a reassuring message around the world to doubters.

Hardcore anti vaxxers are almost impossible to budge from their suspicions, and many of them supported Dr Andrew Wakefield over his disgracefully damaging inaccurate claims about the MMR jab, even after he was exposed as a fraudster.

But a much larger number of people have milder suspicions of vaccines and can be persuaded that it is safe and valuable to take them.

The rapid deployment of the vaccine programme in the UK has been a crucial part of the battle against Covid, and has helped to make up for some of the serious failures in the country’s early response.

It is our main route out of the immense economic, psychological and educational harm of lockdown.

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Alistair Bushe