Hope is on the horizon, let's not blow it now - Elsa Maishman

The sun is shining, restrictions are lifting, and it feels like our summer of hope is finally here.

But the pandemic isn’t over, and it would be an awful thing to blow our progress now.

Nicola Sturgeon announced a delay in restrictions easing on Tuesday, with many of us staying in level two. This is heartbreaking for affected businesses, who must be supported, but it wasn’t a surprise.

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The dates were ambitious, going against the “data not dates” approach the Scottish Government had previously advocated and perhaps bowing to anti-lockdown pressure and the extravagant example set by Boris Johnson.

Picture: John Devlin

Some people seem to think the risk of Covid has disappeared. Hospitalisations and deaths are down – Tuesday marked a moving milestone as for the first time since the start of the pandemic no deaths were announced across the UK – but that doesn’t mean we’re out of the woods.

The Scottish Government has signalled a change in approach, with a move away from trying to reduce cases at all costs, towards accepting some in the hope they do not overwhelm the health service.

Vaccine success has “broken the link” between cases, hospitalisations and deaths, and in future Covid may be treated like other illnesses – a risk, but one that can be managed, especially with trials of booster jags underway, and research into vaccines for new variants.

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The key point though, is that we’re not there yet.

Millions of people have had their vaccine and are rightly thrilled about it, but more than half of Scottish adults haven’t had the two doses needed for full protection.

The most vulnerable have been vaccinated, but outbreaks in large numbers of unvaccinated people risks the spread of new variants, and young people can still be hospitalised, or suffer from Long Covid.

Wednesday saw the highest daily case numbers since March, with the health secretary warning of the start of a third wave. While it will take time to see if this translates into higher hospitalisations and deaths, case numbers cannot yet be completely ignored.

Billions of people in developing countries do not have access to the vaccines, and face horrific consequences. Scotland’s vaccination programme has been one of the fastest in the world – we just need to hang on a little longer.

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