Vaccine has changed lockdown dynamics - Scotsman comment

Optimism is in the air. The Covid vaccination rollout continues apace, Scotland's men's football team is about to compete in its first major tournament since 1998 and the sun even seems to have belatedly decided to come out.

Early evidence suggests the vaccination programme is significantly reducing the numbers of serious illnesses and deaths from coronavirus.

Deputy First Minister John Swinney yesterday said he was "optimistic" that restrictions could be eased this week in Glasgow, where a fan zone has been created for up to 6,000 people to gather in public to watch Euro 2020 matches once the postponed tournament starts on 11 June.

Glaswegians have had to endure more restrictions than the rest of Scotland and the city is the only part of the country which is still in level three.

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For nine months, Glaswegians have not been able to mix indoors with people from other households or enjoy alcohol inside bars and restaurants. They have every reason to feel "scunnered", as First Minister Nicola Sturgeon put it last week.

But despite the frustration we must all continue to abide by the rules. Optimism was in the air last summer too. Many people let their guard down as infection rates fell and restrictions were eased, and the second wave proved even more deadly than the first.

The biggest difference between this year and last is the vaccine. Yesterday Scotland passed the two million vaccinations milestone. The drugs are not 100 per cent effective and new coronavirus variants will continue to emerge, but the evidence so far suggests vaccines are having a major impact on the numbers of deaths and serious illnesses.

Hopes of eliminating the virus seem very distant now. We are going to have to learn to live with it in the same way that we have learned to live with influenza viruses.

Mr Swinney yesterday echoed comments made by Ms Sturgeon last week when he said the vaccination programme has changed the “dynamics” of dealing with Covid. If the vaccine really has lowered significantly the risks of serious illness and death among those infected then the case for continued lockdowns is weakened.

As frustration levels in Glasgow soar, the reasoning behind any decision this week not to release the city from level three restrictions must be made completely transparent to its long-suffering citizens.