Saturday, 6th February, 2021

[Day 327]

Today was one of those days when we seemed to meet person after person. On our way down into town I bumped into a near neighbour who works in the hotel up the road. Her husband and son who has health conditions had already received jabs and our friend was due to get hers shortly, either by dint of being a carer or in her own right. We used to know each quite well because we used to occupy adjacent mats in our weekly Pilates sessions but our paths have diverged a little since then. Nonetheless, we always catch up on local news whenever we happen to meet. In the park, we went to a ‘new’ vantage point where we met with our Birmingham University friend. Whilst Meg and he sat chatting on adjacent benches, I made a rapid trek into town to collect my Saturday ration of newspapers. Here too, the lady in the newspaper shop had just received her jab (about an hour beforehand), so we exchanged notes. Then I went to meet up again with Meg and friend and a couple of our church friends (who we know very well) popped into view so we had a multi-lateral chat as we wont to do. Actually, the path in this ‘new to us’ location is quite a lot broader which certainly helps with social distancing when people come by with their dogs and parents supervise their children on a variety of wheels (normally, tiny little bikes with stabilisers for the very youngest) After all of this chatting, we were were a little late in getting home for lunch which had to be prepared a little more rapidly than usual as we were keen to get sitting down for 2.15 in the afternoon when the first of the ‘Six Nations’ rugby competitions was due to start. The first match was a rather one-sided affair between France (who were superb) and the Italians who struggled hard to make a match of it. The second match later in the afternoon was the Calcutta Cup, awarded each year for the match of Scotland against England. This match turned out to be memorable in many, many ways. Firstly, I have to say that the Scots have played better than I have seen them play for years. Conversely, the English played worse than for many years. The net result of all of this was the Scots won the match (11-6) with the Scots scoring the only try in the match. This was the first Scots victory at Twickenham since 1983 which is evidently thirty-eight years ago (half of my age!) The English coach, Eddie Jones, was magnanimous in defeat and observed ‘I take responsibility. I didn’t prepare the team well enough. We just had one of those days. We don’t have many, but we had a bad day today‘. Even Brian Moore who won a total of 67 England caps between 1987 and 1995 and now an esteemed commentator for the BBC tweeted: ‘Congratulations to Scotland, outplayed England all over the park and deserved winners’.

The progress towards the vaccination target continues apace with the latest figure being 11.47 million (the target being 15 million by the middle of February i.e. in 10 days time). It looks as though this target may well be hit on time as we need to conduct about 350,000 vaccinations each day for the next 10 days. Confident of meeting this target (even a day or so early) the Government is now promising a new target of all of the aged over 50 and over by the end of May. Of course, this could be do-able but if a new variant of the virus were to emerge, this might knock us of course. The figures of new infections, deaths etc, issued at the weekend are always a little unreliable as many statistics do not get processed over the weekend but the figures are all pointing in the same direction i.e. downwards!

I decided to look up some figures to attempt to gauge the magnititude of the vaccination task ahead of us. There are 4.7 million people in their 60s and 5.2 million in their 50s. In addition, there are 7.3 million people with vulnerable health status aged between 16-64. Adding up all of these figures we get a grand total of 17.2 million to be vaccinated between mid-February and the end of May. According to my calculations, there are about 105 days left between February 15th and May 31st which is about 164,000 (to the nearest 1,000) per day. Again this looks quite do-able at the present rate of progress but of course we do not know (a closely guarded State secret!) how much vaccine we actually do have and what the supply line looks like. As usual, we may need the fine print in the inside pages of the Sunday newspapers to work out whether these targets (and the calculations behind them) are correct.