This was the day, my age group had been called up, I had swiftly booked my jab and consequently, I was about to be given my first dose of vaccine against Covid-19. I arrived at the temporary vaccine centre by bike, parked up, and was directed smoothly from person to person, all friendly, all professional, I was perhaps the thousandth person they had assisted in this way today and as a sign proudly displayed inside the building, 'the hundred-thousandth since the vaccine rollout began!' I queued briefly, was triaged, and within moments found myself sat in a plastic chair, the tiny, uncomfortable sort you only get in schools. I rolled my sleeve up as a friendly nurse prepared to inject me with the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, one of 16 authorized vaccines globally, with many more in development. (Source.)
It was only once the injection was finished, and I was sat in the holding area, cotton wool ball held to my arm and counting down the 15 minutes until I could leave that the significance of what had just happened hit home.
In January 2020, the first cases of SARS-CoV-2, commonly known as Covid-19 were identified in Wuhan, China. Unless you are part of an undiscovered tribe deep within the Amazon rainforest (in which case, how are you reading this!?) then you've probably read those words, or words very much like them, a million times. It is sometimes hard to think that this pandemic has only been going on for 18 months, it feels like a lifetime, but in the world of vaccine development, 18 months is an incredibly short amount of time, at 18 months a vaccine would usually still be in the exploratory stage of identifying possible antigens that will fight the disease. It is perfectly routine for full vaccine development to take between 10-15 years. (Source.)
Due to the hard work and ingenuity of scientists internationally we began to be vaccinated against Covid-19 within a year of having first identified the virus, which is, quite frankly staggering.
The Covid-19 vaccine story “challenges our whole paradigm of what is possible in vaccine development”, says Natalie Dean, a biostatistician at the University of Florida.(Source.) As a student of Science, albeit not medical Science, I find this whole topic hugely exciting and inspiring, the people behind the vaccine development and rollout, from scientists, to nurses, to politicians, to supply chain managers and innumerable other roles are just people like you and me, many of them I'm sure will be Open University alumni.
Isn't that inspiring?
I remember someone saying something powerful in a documentary I watched about the Amazon rainforest, those words have stuck with me.
"Whatever the problem, people are the solution."
So, whatever you're studying with the OU, remember that when people come together, try new things and work hard, we can achieve truly incredible things.