COVID:19: What will the rest of 2021 look like?

It’s been 25 days since the Prime Minister announced the latest national lockdown. This time around, the general consensus seems to be that this lockdown is harder than the ones before.

As there is no end date currently in sight, many of us might be wondering what this year will look like whilst clinging onto the hope that things will get better and that we will be able to return to normality by the end of the year.

Unfortunately, none of us are able to predict the future or provide guarantee that it’s possible. One thing we do know is that hope is an essential part of resilience and if there’s one thing we all need, it’s that.

A good indicator is looking at the vaccine rollout the government has planned. The UK is currently underway with the biggest mass-vaccination in history. The programme is aimed to protect tens of millions of people from COVID-19 within months.

Currently, the government is hoping to offer vaccines to 15 million people – the over-70s, healthcare workers and those required to shield – by mid-February and millions more of the over-50s and other priority groups by spring.

It is thought that these groups represent 90-99% of those at risk of dying from COVID-19. In theory, if the vaccine programme works, we should gradually start to see a drastic decrease in hospital admissions and fatalities related to COVID-19 as a result of this.

At the moment, it is unclear whether the vaccine will have a high positive impact on the level of transmission as this is something we are still waiting to see results on. But so far, the first controlled vaccine results outside of a trial in Israel have shown positive results.

According to the “top vaccine statistics analyst”, Anat Ekka Zohar, the Pfizer vaccine is showing to be 92 percent effective in Israel. Only 31 out of 163,000 Israelis vaccinated by Maccabi Healthcare Service caught coronavirus in their first 10 days of full-strength protection.

If the rest of the world see similar results from the rollout of vaccines, we can expect to see positive results throughout the year. Although one important factor to consider is the approach we take worldwide collectively as opposed to taking an individualist approach, as ultimately we need to reduce the virus in the entire population if we want to return back to ‘normal’.

But what if I don’t want a vaccine?

Currently, it is not mandatory to receive a vaccine within the UK, meaning that each individual has a choice whether to accept the vaccine.

Will this affect the overall outcome?

At the moment this is impossible to answer. We can’t predict the percentage of people who will decline the vaccine. Currently, the younger age groups aren’t expected to be offered the vaccine until autumn and by then we should see results from the previous vaccine rollout that could impact this decision.

Something that we do know is that people who have had coronavirus should have natural antibodies that their immune system has created in response to the virus. Public Health England recently shared research from a study that confirmed findings to show people who have already had the virus should have immunity for at least five months.

To date, 1,673,936 people in the UK have recovered from the virus. Even if a percentage of the population decides not to take the vaccine, we should see an overall immunity response combined of antibodies that have been created from COVID-19 exposure and antibodies that have been created as a result of a vaccine.

Of course, we don’t know how long antibodies provide immunity for, however it is hoped that the antibodies will provide immunity long enough to see an overall positive impact across the population.

Ultimately, we are in a stronger position to fight the virus once and for all than we have ever been before.

Please note, the information in this post was correct at the time of publication on 29/01/2021.