Message from the Chair

New Year Greetings!
Looking back to 2020, as in most of the world, the COVID-19 pandemic dominated events in the UK during this year.
As early as the 31st January COVID-19 was in the UK: The first two cases of infection with severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2, then known as 2019-nCoV) in the United Kingdom were confirmed.

In February Storm Dennis initiates record number of flood warnings and February records the highest monthly rainfall in the UK since records began in 1862. The old adage ‘It never rains but it pours’ seems to sum up the rest of the year.

In March, as the number of British cases start to rapidly rise the government holds COBRA meetings to discuss its preparations and response to the Covid outbreak. March was our last live monthly u3a meeting and so we moved through various levels of lockdown and travel restrictions to where we are now.

On 23rd December a new highly infectious strain is confirmed to be present in London and the East of England leading to Tier 4 restrictions. However the good news is that we should celebrate the science that has led to the production of Covid vaccines in record time. The widespread community transmission which has been partly curtailed by the various levels of lockdown restrictions should start to be lower as more people receive the vaccine. Herd immunity will require a majority of the population to be vaccinated which requires a high level of public trust not misinformation (there is plenty of that on social media).

The first vaccine was introduced by British physician, Edward Jenner, who in 1796 used the cowpox virus (vaccinia) to confer protection against smallpox, a related virus, in humans. Since then vaccines have saved millions of lives.

Optimistically we could see restrictions lifted as soon as a significant proportion of the population, especially the elderly and high risk people have received the vaccination. We may then be able to resume our meetings and activities once more.

The good news today was the approval of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine which can be stored in a normal fridge which makes it much easier to distribute. Conversely we also heard that we have been promoted to Tier4. Hopefully this will be a period of short term pain for a long term gain.

Finally thank you all for:
– your patience and understanding throughout this most unusual of times
-for taking part in Zoom meetings and events
-and outside groups of 6 events
-keeping in touch with each other by phone, text and WhatsApp mini groups
-all contributors to the newsletter

And thanks to:
-Group Leaders
-members of the committee and social sub committee
-Lynda Jackson for designing the Christmas card and the cycle group for delivering
-Geoff Daft from the Methodist Church for continuing to print the newsletter
-Barrie Saunders and Mark Jackson for distributing the newsletter with me
-Steve Lawrence for continuing to produce a quality newsletter for all of us

Happy New Year

David Rose Chairman

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