by Colin Campbell
ON Sunday night a normally routine update call to a very close relative in the south assumed a very specific focus, when he told me that his wife had just tested positive for covid.
There was a time when that news would have sent a jolt right through me, and he’d have been worried sick.
But no longer. It was unwelcome news, certainly, but after it had been digested, and the details explained, we were able to move on to other things.
A year ago that would have been unthinkable.
We’ve gone from a situation where I barely knew anyone who had the virus to a point where every household I visit regularly has been affected by it.
Just about the only person I know who hasn’t been is myself. For now, at least.
And among all these people, 20 or so in number across all age groups, the symptoms have been in two cases either non-existent, fairly mild among those affected, and several not being infected at all, despite being under the same roof in self-isolation.
That’s why the Sunday night conversation over the latest person I know infected – who had taken to her bed – was, although not exactly casual, not filled with acute alarm.
There will be regular updates. You can’t take anything for granted. The husband is doing his best as far as he can to keep his distance, in the most compassionate way. He may catch it, he may not. Fully vaccinated and boostered, and even living under the same roof in self-isolation for the next seven days, there’s by no means the unhappy certainty that he will.
The reason for this is all too obvious, but how many people seem to have forgotten it.
It’s because of what at the time, a year ago, was the success of the UK Government in becoming the second country in the world, behind Israel, to secure tens of millions of doses of a potentially lifesaving vaccine.
Throughout this entire saga, will anyone ever forget the moment when they received notification that it was their turn to go along to the local surgery or vaccination centre for their first dose?
I know I won’t. It came in a text – an unexpectedly early text – on Friday, February 13. In an immediate phone call to the Riverside Medical Practice almost with trembling hand I was told to come in at 3.58pm the following day.
My diary for that Saturday bears the underlined handwritten words almost the size of one of the many newspaper headlines I’ve written: “I GOT THE JAB TODAY.”
You remember your first vaccination as you wish. I know I’ll always remember mine, and the sense of relief, and release it brought. The second followed, again unexpectedly soon, six weeks later on April 2.
Maybe the flood of optimism that many felt around that time and in the weeks before and after was at least partly premature. Even now, we’re not out of the woods yet with this thing, as I was sharply reminded on Sunday night.
But it’s well on the way to feeling like it.
My relative told me that there was a social event in Newtonmore last week. Now he said he’s heard half the village is infected.
That’s far from being headline news anymore. But it was certainly headline news a year last December when a number of cases were diagnosed after a pub night in Dingwall. Shocking headline news in fact.
Everything has now changed.
We were told by various media pundits amid the “partygate” hullabaloo that the lifesaving success of the UK Government’s vaccine programme counted for nothing among the public anymore. That the “betrayal” and “arrogance” of Boris Johnson and co. had completely overshadowed it.
Maybe they are right.
But they most emphatically should be wrong.
The lie that resonates most with me from the past two years came not from Boris Johnson but from Nicola Sturgeon. When asked after millions across Scotland had been vaccinated if an independent Scotland would have achieved the same level of success, she said with teeth bared: “Yes”.
Many in Scotland will of course believe that, and insist she is right. Gullible fools that they are.
We all know that the superb work done by NHS staff is almost beyond praise.
But it’s because of the vaccine success of the UK Government, led by one Boris Johnson, that the conversation I had with a close relative on Sunday night was reasonably relaxed, rather than being an outright fright night.
And whatever quantity of bile and vitriol is being poured over them all now, I suspect a very number significant of people capable of placing things in reasonable perspective won’t forget that.