Adversity, challenge, and uncertainty have been the prominent watchwords of 2020. For many people, the impact of Covid-19 has reached far beyond the obvious effect on their physical health. School closures, travel bans imposed, and sporting events cancelled, not to mention reduced social circles, have had an equally detrimental effect on their mental health too.

Many had pinned their hopes for a little respite from the global pandemic, on spending Christmas with family members. However, the identification of a 3rd variant of the virus put paid to that. Indeed, the discovery of this new mutation saw the UK government introduce more stringent lockdown rules and the common consensus is that the rules will get even tighter.

BBC reporter Ros Atkins was widely applauded for his ‘honest’ summary on the UK’s multiple crises. “It’s the shortest day of the year here in the UK and the dank, dark day is matched profoundly to uncertain times” he said. “A new variant of Covid-19 is out of control. Because of this, 40 countries have banned all incoming flights from the UK. In addition, France has shut its border, hundreds of lorries are stuck and there are warnings some fresh food supplies will be impacted within days.’’ [1]

At the start of the year, few would have anticipated how much of a negative domino effect the virus would have across the globe.

The good news. Contrary to reports in some factions of the mainstream media and the slowly increasing in volume whispers amongst conspiracy theorists that the vaccines being produced are inadequate to deal with the new strains discovered, these claims are largely unsubstantiated.

BioNTech Chief Executive Ugur Sahin is confident the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine works against the new strain. He is quoted in the Evening Standard saying, “Further studies were needed to be completely sure of the shot’s efficacy against the virus variant, but evidence suggests it should continue to protect recipients against Covid-19.” Of course, more in-depth study would further build confidence, but given that the vaccine has already been authorised for use in more than 45 countries including the UK, US and across the EU, any doubts about its efficacy are low. [2]

Another positive sign of light at the end of the Covid-related tunnel, is the recent approval of the vaccine developed by Oxford University and AstraZeneca. It is not yet clear how this might respond to the new strain of the virus, but the ball is clearly rolling towards better days.

The emergence of the new strain, causing a national UK spike in both cases and deaths attributed to Covid 19, required immediate action. Sky News UK reported, ‘39,237 new cases have been recorded in the latest reporting period – the highest daily rise so far.’ Couple this with a further 744 Covid-19-related deaths having been reported – the highest number since April 29’. The UK government reacted to this news with the Health Secretary moving 4.2m people move to Tier 3, 6.3m people move into Tier 4 and 762,379 people move into Tier 2. [3]

It has been some year and testing on all fronts, but we must remain hopeful that we are looking for and will get traction in the right direction. Solace must be found. We did not have a vaccine; we now have two, with distribution gaining momentum leading into 2021.

Whatever your belief on the virus itself and how it is being dealt with or approached by the various governments around the world, be grateful and remain humble that you are here to witness the strength and unity of the human population when our backs are to the wall. Act accordingly, appreciate others’ space and just be kind. Manifest positively towards better days and they will come. As Victor Hugo said, “Even the darkest night will end, and the sun will rise”.