Welcome to our autumn Upbeat Bulletin. As the nights draw in, we reach out for rays of sunshine to brighten your day …
Covid-19: the cavalry is finally coming
The big news this month is obviously the emergence of Pfizer and BioNTech’s coronavirus vaccine. The world has been waiting with bated breath to discover whether any of the potential vaccines in phase 3 trials were effective. Therefore, there was a collective exhalation – “everybody breathe” – when the American multinational announced that its vaccine was 90% effective. This exceeded the expectations of even the most optimistic scientists.
The pandemic isn’t over quite yet though. Pfizer’s pharmaceutical phenomenon has yet to be passed by regulators and we don’t yet know whether it prevents the spread of infection or merely mollifies symptoms. What’s more, the vaccine needs to be stored at minus 70 degrees. That’s colder than a polar bear’s paws. Rolling it out to millions isn’t going to be easy.
It’s a good thing, therefore, that other vaccines are also reaching the end of phase 3 trials. Oxford University’s collaboration with AstraZeneca is perhaps the most anticipated – not least because it’s far less expensive and can be stored at 4C. That’s the approximate temperature of Boris Johnson’s wine fridge.
Having bought 100 million doses of the Oxford elixir, the government will be crossing fingers, toes, and everything else that its efficacy comes close to Pfizer’s. It wouldn’t necessarily need to be this effective, however, to help in the fight against the pandemic. Regulators normally approve vaccines that work for 50% of people. Every little helps in the quest for population immunity.
It’s also worth mentioning that although Chris Witty and Patrick Vallance have told us that the situation is dire, a couple of recent studies have shown that the UK’s R-rate has actually fallen below 1 in most areas. One of them is Imperial’s REACT-1 survey, which has already revised its cataclysmic predictions that persuaded the prime minister to call a second national lockdown, and the other is Kings College’s popular ZOE app.
With the scientific community apparently split over the latest Covid-19 data, it’s hard for laymen to understand precisely what’s going on. However, it’s encouraging to know that one way or another this wretched pandemic will eventually pass. The NHS, the nation’s physical and mental health, not to mention the economy, desperately need some good news.
Environmentalists buoyed by US election result
Politics is obviously polarising but as a sustainable company, we shouldn’t let Joe Biden’s victory in the presidential election go unmentioned. Climate change was never top of Donald Trump’s agenda so it’s not surprising that environmentalists were smiling from ear to ear as the results from Arizona, Georgia, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania gradually came in last week.
The victorious Biden has already signalled his intention to re-join The Paris Agreement – something Trump withdrew from during his first year in office. Indeed, Biden’s plans on climate change have been described as the most ambitious of any mainstream president. He plans to make US electricity production carbon-free by 2035, reduce emissions to zero by 2050, and invest $2 trillion over four years to make buildings more energy-efficient.
Biden’s plan - if he actually delivers - sounds sensible. By investing in public transport, boosting electric vehicle manufacturing, and encouraging the construction of more eco-friendly homes, the Democrats are hoping to help the planet and the economy at the same time. This would prove that green policies have economic benefits as well as costs.
What’s more, with China, the EU, Japan, and South Korea already committing to net zero emissions by mid-century, Bill Hare from the Climate Action Tracker believes the world may be reaching a historical “tipping point” where global warming targets are finally met. After decades of ‘tipping’ fossils fuels into fires and ‘tipping’ plastic into our oceans, this is good news indeed.
You can’t keep a keepy-uppy girl down
Finally, we bring you news of a remarkable charity fundraising feat by 11-year old footballer Imogen Papworth-Heidel from Hauxton in Cambridge. She completed a challenge to reach 7.1 million ‘keepy-uppies’ – one for every single keyworker in the UK. In doing so she raised £10,800 for nine charities. A great result.
Inspired by Captain Sir Tom Moore, who completed one hundred laps of his garden for the NHS, Imogen began her quest during the first lockdown. She started by doing 200 per day but soon realised it would take her 97 years to reach her goal. The aspiring Lioness therefore stepped up her efforts and eventually enlisted approximately two thousand helpers, which included footballing philanthropist Marcus Rashford and England defender Lucy Bronze.
Although Imogen needed a little help to reach seven million, she managed an astonishing 1,123,586 keepy-uppies herself in an unbroken 195-day run. In doing so, she’s already achieved far more this season than her beloved Arsenal. In fact, the FA has decided to honour her in their Lionhearts squad – a group of 23 everyday heroes who have gone above and beyond to help others.