Terry Prone: We need this vaccine to be a magic bullet

16th Mar 2021
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Day 157

Could all those medics please stop telling us the vaccine isn’t a magic bullet? A magic bullet is exactly what it is. It is the very quintessence of magic bullet: appeared out of nowhere at unprecedented speed, using miraculous new methods and is already making a hell of an impact on death rates in this country.

This downward expectation management is reminiscent of the time I helped introduce Durex here.

Durex had their data lined up, right down to disproving the then-popular myth that one in a thousand condoms coming off the conveyor belt was poked with a needle in order to give conception a fighting chance.

The company also taught us how to unfurl the product for action, using fruit as penis substitutes.

Even today, I could probably roll a condom onto a banana in three seconds flat.

I’ve never actually needed to deploy this skill, but you never know when a fruit will demand it.

Those opposed to contraception loathed how effective condoms were. They hated the thought that we’d all become sexually hyperactive once condoms arrived.

Like the “vaccine is no magic bullet” lads, they had for so long enjoyed terrifying us with the dire consequences of untrammeled sex, they weren’t going to let go of the trammels without at least uttering some dark — if non-specific — warnings.

Day 158

Admit it. One of the simple joys of a post-Covid live will be never seeing another photograph of a long swab going up someone’s nose. A bit like the aftermath of Piers Morgan storming off the set.

Joni Mitchel’s song about not knowing what you’ve got til it’s gone applies positively and negatively.

If someone has a Covid skip that wants filling, put in the swab shots, plus the upper-arm needle pics, plus the word “frustrated”, which is so over-used, right now.

The repetitive visuals made this week’s photograph of the starling murmuration heartstopping in comparison. Applause for the photographer who hung around, camera in hand, for a long time to capture it.

It reminded me of traveling with a snapper in my days as a fashion correspondent, for which my qualifications were nil.

Him sulking. He hated doing fashion shoots and particularly hated the model of the day, who, although a dote, had never learned which was her right arm and which her left, which made her a bit difficult to pose.

To cheer him up, I asked him about his favourite shot and he sighed: “The one that got away,” he said. “I was halfway up a mountain in Kerry with a few pals when one of them pointed down and there, in the valley, was this tiny church, with an evenly spaced procession going in the front door. Procession of sheep. And I didn’t have any cameras with me.”

Day 159

A letter from the RSA arrives, telling me three points I didn’t know were on my drivers licence have died of exhaustion.

How cool a Covid-19 outcome is that? Lockdown took away my capacity to earn new points while killing off the old ones.

Day 160

The Catholic Church is lobbying for loosening of regulations around funerals. Credit to them representing their constituency, and one hopes that they are properly registered as lobbyists, like Tom Parlon and all the others who lobby politicians.

It is kind of sad, though, that this is the level of the Irish hierarchy’s public communication on the most acute issue to hit humanity in decades.

Can anyone point to a bishop who has made an issue out of sharing of vaccines with poor countries?

Or about the violence dealt to women trapped in domestic situations with bigger, stronger men?

Or about keeping off-licenses open when it’s not possible to buy children replacements for too-tight shoes?

Or about helping charities whose need for money is crippling, because of their incapacity to do fundraisers?

Once upon a time, the Catholic hierarchy here wouldn’t stop laying down the law about education — yet now, we hear not a dickie bird from them about the need to rescue children with disabilities from their exclusion from the special education crucial to how they live and learn.

“What did you do in the pandemic, Your Grace?” “I campaigned for bigger funerals, my child.”

Day 161

Littlewoods email me to tell me my identity, address and phone number have been nicked by some cyber-villain. But, they rush to reassure me, my bank account is fine.

Proves how much Littlewoods know. My bank account is far from fine, but that’s nothing to do with cyber-villains.

Day 162

You don’t need thrillers in the middle of a pandemic. Not when you have frontline doctors who, at the end of an exhausting scary day, strip off and carefully bag their plastic protective gear before showering, then sit down and write about the tragic, infuriating but occasionally funny and always moving times through which they’re living.

Two NHS doctors have recently released books worth reading. One — Breathtaking — is by a doctor named Rachel Clarke who suddenly finds her hospice turned into an extension of a local hospital to take care of Covid patients — but without the requisite PPE, at least at first.

But then, as she writes: “Three nurses from the recently overwhelmed Northwick Park Hospital in London shared a photograph of themselves with bin bags on their heads and feet as they issued a plea for proper masks, gowns and gloves … shortly afterwards, all three nurses test positive for Covid.”

Clarke hoovers up accounts of families facing particularly awful challenges. Like that of Poppy, an eight-year-old with cystic fibrosis, whose father, a community pharmacy manager who, in order to do his job while protecting Poppy, “got an old mattress, stuck it into the garage, tried to seal up the draught underneath the garage door and has lived there ever since, sleeping with the tools, the washing machine, the junk and the old cardboard boxes…”

The other book — Intensive Care — is by an Edinburgh GP, Gavin Francis, who finds some of his patients doing remarkably well in the pandemic.

After years of agoraphobia and anxiety, one of them paradoxically feels better now that no one else is allowed out. “She had taken herself off all her anxiety medication for the first time in years.”

Other anxious patients of mine, habitual worriers, reported a similar sense of relief: the worst actually had happened, and that realisation brought an unexpected sense of liberation.

The lovely writer, Dr Gavin Francis, while enraged at much of what happened in the UK during the pandemic, is nonetheless certain that “There is another world waiting for us on the other side of the pandemic, a sweeter world, charged with the knowledge of what was lost.”

Day 163

Shut-down of AstraZenica administration because of peculiar clotting incidents elsewhere.

It’s ‘The Right Thing’ to do. Surprising how annoying it is to be at the receiving end of ‘The Right Thing’.