It was a long winter in most of Europe. For many countries, the number of cases of COVID-19 was higher than in the first wave of the pandemic. Restrictions on movement and school closures were common; birthday parties, concerts and trips to the cinema were not.
And, while music festivals and the airport may remain off limits for now, there are early signs of hope. After a stuttering start, Europe’s vaccination programmes are getting into gear, vaccinating millions of people every week.
The news from Israel and the UK – frontrunners in rolling out vaccines – is good. Millions have been safely vaccinated; the vaccines appear just as effective in the real world as in clinical trials. They may even reduce transmission and offer some protection against new variants of the virus.
Vaccine programmes in low and middle-income countries have been slowest to secure vaccine supplies but COVAX is now delivering and global leaders have committed to further supporting a fairer distribution of vaccines.
We’re very proud to announce that 600,000 doses of #COVAX vaccines, the first to be shipped and delivered, have now arrived in Ghana. This is a truly momentous day, and a major milestone reached for a global solution to this global pandemic: https://t.co/hFV3zscT80 pic.twitter.com/pK8qaxX17E— Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance (@gavi) February 24, 2021
For weary populations, progress cannot come quick enough. It will be months before Europe can reach all health workers and older adults. Many of their counterparts in countries that depend on COVAX will wait until the second half of 2021 or perhaps later.
But with social media alight with images of people from around the world having their COVID-19 vaccine, there are reasons for cautious optimism.
Here are a selection of COVID-19 vaccine tweets – for more, follow #IAmVaccinated #ThisIsOurShot #IGotTheShot
You can see the smile beneath the mask.— Alastair McAlpine, MD (@AlastairMcA30) February 23, 2021
This is hope.
This is life.
This is our shot.
Eternally grateful to the amazing scientists who made this happen. Let’s get it into everyone who wants it.#thisisourshot #vaccineswork pic.twitter.com/XqI2NMYyLp