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Light At The End of The Tunnel

Light At The End of The Tunnel
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by
Managing Director

Lockdown 2 was a blow to many people and businesses who had been hoping to make a recovery in the lead up to Christmas. Now though, it seems the combination of new, faster testing methods and three vaccines could bring the hope that 2021 will see us getting back to what used to be 'normal' life. 

In March, the world as we knew it stopped. Everything closed. Everyone had to stay home, isolated from family and friends. After the uncertainty of Brexit, a new kind of uncertainty entered the collective consciousness. A new type of fear entered the landscape ushering in panic buying and reflected in deserted streets, empty cities. For months, we endured an unprecedented lockdown until finally, some respite. Whilst certain restrictions continued, life began to get back to some kind of normal, with restaurants and pubs reopening, shops and beauty parlours welcoming customers back, and many of us diving for the nearest available haircut!

Then, October blew in and with it, more restrictions as Coronavirus once more took hold culminating in a second national lockdown once more. This time around was harder for many who had been, for the first time in a long time, truly appreciating the opportunities our civilization has to offer. With winter greyness approaching, the landscape was looking bleak.

And then, a light appeared at the end of the tunnel.

Vaccines

Just a few days after Lockdown 2, Pfizer BioNTech gave us all the beginning of a new hope with the announcement of successful trials of a vaccine shown as being 95% effective. Hot on the heels of that announcement, Moderna unveiled their vaccine with an effectiveness of 94.5%. Swiftly, AstraZeneca in collaboration with The University of Oxford announced a third vaccine with an average effectiveness of 70%.

The ‘average efficacy’ figure from the AstraZeneca vaccine comes from the average of two different dosing protocols: in one, a half dose of the vaccine was given followed by a full dose a month or more later. This schedule revealed an efficacy of 90%. In the second protocol, two full doses were given a month apart and delivered 62% efficacy – hence the 70% average. So, there’s actually an indication that, when administered using the original protocol, it’s around 90% effective. Significantly, the AstraZeneca vaccine can be administered through the existing healthcare system, whereas the other two require additional measures. Also unlike the other two vaccines which must be kept at ultracold temperatures, AstraZeneca’s can be shipped and stored for six months at standard refrigerator temperatures. AstraZeneca’s vaccine is also cheaper to produce. They are rolling it out quickly and anticipate a manufacturing capacity of up to 3 billion does in 2021. The UK government has ordered 100 million doses, 4 million have already been delivered, 20 million will be available in the UK by the end of the year, and another 70 million available by the end of March.

The vaccine rollout is due to begin next month with priority being given to those with profiles identified as likely to have the worst outcomes if they’re infected. This means starting with older adults in care homes and care home workers, followed by those aged 80 and over along with health and social care workers, and then those aged 75 and over, and so on down the line.

Lateral Flow Testing

Until now, the most common testing method for COVID-19 has been the Reverse Transcription-Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-PCR) assay. RT-PCR is a highly sensitive method of testing for the presence of the virus’s RNA (genetic material). Results are usually back in a matter of hours (although if labs are backed up, it can take longer for the testing to happen). Last month, a new method of testing was rolled out in Liverpool: lateral flow testing. This test produces results in a matter of fifteen minutes so tests can be administered and the result ascertained much faster. And the sooner we know someone is infected, the sooner they can self-isolate, limiting the spread of the disease. Lateral flow testing is due to be rolled out across the NHS in December.

Faster, more wide-spread testing and three promising vaccines – lights at the end of the Coronavirus tunnel. By Easter, we could all be returning to something almost recognisable as ‘normal’ life. Good news for all of us yearning to be able to mix more freely with family and friends and also great news for businesses. In particular, the Retail, Hospitality and Leisure sectors, along with all their supporting industries, can start to tentatively plan with an end goal in sight. We may see a return to offices giving new life to the many auxiliary industries supporting office-working life. The economy will once again, start to move as confidence returns to business. The economic impact of Coronavirus cannot be ignored; not just in the UK but globally, it’s going to take many years for recovery. Now though, it is looking rather like 2021 is going to be very much better.

If you are a candidate with questions about how COVID-19 is affecting your employment status, why not join our Managing Director, Jason Perry for Candidate Question Time on  Facebook Live, every other Saturday at 10am? You can put your questions to him and get answers straight away.

If you’re an employer looking for clarity on the ever-changing legislation COVID has brought us, join Jason and other business owners every Wednesday at 11am for the Weekly Employers Conference Call and catch his weekly HR in 10 at 10 YouTube  Live slot on a Thursday with HR Consultant, Kimberly Bradshaw, Spotlight HR. Email hastings@aslgroup.co.uk for your Zoom link.

 

ASL Recruitment was established in 1999 and has been serving Hastings and the surrounding area ever since placing temporary and permanent roles across a variety of sectors including Industrial and Manufacturing, Legal, Finance, Marketing, Technology and Office Support, from junior up to board level. Our co-founder and Managing Director, Jason Perry is an HR specialist and a Chartered Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development. For further information on our recruitment or consultancy services, email  hastings@aslgroup.co.uk   or call us on 01424 452999.