Tuesday, 26th January, 2021

[Day 316]

So this is V (for vaccination day) + 1 – in other words, we are waiting to see if the vaccine will inflict any of its side effects on us or not. We got up at our normal time, having had a night of untroubled sleep, and then settled into our normal routine. We then collected our newspapers passing our Birmingham University friend en route and we said we would catch up with each other later. When we got into the park, we were hailed by our next-door neighbour who was busy giving his little dog a walk. Then we resumed our conversation with our Birmingham University friend where we discussed a paper I had come across as a postgraduate student by Sir Peter Medawar, the principal executive of the Medical Research Council. His seminal paper was called ‘Is the Scientific Paper a Fraud?' (or something similar). His whole thesis is that the typical scientific paper proceeds by laying out the literature base of the extant theory, then some new theoretical insights arising from current work from which hypotheses are drawn, data is collected and then a conclusion reached as to whether the new theoretical formulation receives support (wholly or in part) or fails to be confirmed by the available data. The point of the Medawar paper is that describes the formal logic underlying the scientific paper – actual research, however, does not proceed like this and is actually quite a melange of data collection, hypothesis formulation and reformulation, some working adjustments in the light of the data – in other words, quite a messy and complicated business which is not at all like the ‘formal’ procedures outlined in the paper as it is actually presented for publication.

So you can see that we had quite a busy morning and came home to a meal of fish cakes. I busied myself getting some of our medical documentation in order (some of which will require copying and then a careful filing) In the late afternoon, we had a couple of video calls, the first of which was a Skype call to a colleague/friend from Hampshire – we then went down memory lane exploring some of the ways in which as external examiners or PhD candidates we had come across some current problems and concerns. Immediately following this, we engaged in a FaceTime call with some of our ex-Waitrose friends who had eventually secured a ‘slot’ for them to receive the jab. Actually, the husband should have received his call-up weeks ago because of his medical history but somehow the appropriate ‘flag’ had not been set on his records so he had got missed off the priority list. Anyway, better later than never.

Although I generally do not discuss medical matters, the reactions of our bodies to the jab is interesting. Meg and I have generally felt OK and it seems to be a characteristic of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine that the older you are, the fewer symptoms you appear to have. Having said this, Meg and I are starting to have a few flu-like symptoms so we have switched the electric blanket on early and will probably go to bed an hour earlier tonight. The symptoms are signs that our immune systems are working as they should and are not a cause for alarm but they should last for 24-48 hours.

Today is quite a dramatic day in the history of the pandemic in the UK for it is the day when the death total since the start of the pandemic has topped 100,000 lives. One the government’s medical advisers had stated at the start of the pandemic that 20,000 deaths would be quite a ‘good’ outcome but this has now been exceeded five times and we are not near the end of the second wave yet. On the more encouraging side, the number of people vaccinated is now 6.85 million. It does appear that the death rates in hospital are less than the first wave of the pandemic as the medics have discovered new ways of treating (if not actually curing) the disease.