Hugging will hopefully return in 2021! Photo: Vino Li

2021 will get better

It might be the worst start ever to a new year in living memory but at least we all know that 2021 is going to be better than last year!

So one of the few upsides of the disastrous global pandemic last year is that while so many great events were cancelled last year, it means that we will enjoy them all the more this year when they do go ahead.

We don't know for sure what will be able to go ahead but hopefully some of our festivals like the Cork Midsummer Festival and the Guinness Cork Jazz Festival will be able to run to some extent at least - even if they are outdoors events only.

That would be a whole lot better than nothing.

Last year saw the cancellation of the Olympics and Euro 2020. It remains to be seen if they will go ahead and the Lions tour to South Africa is in huge doubt, but this year will hopefully be one of the best ever for sports fans.

While the pandemic has brought isolation, death, depression and so much hardship, a number of vaccines are on the way that will firstly help to safeguard the most vulnerable and then allow us to live more like the way we used to.

It will not be exactly how we used to live for awhile yet, but we know that salvation is coming. 2021 will be a year of hope.

Yesterday in some rare recent positive news, the European Medicines Agency (EMA) approved the Moderna Covid-19 vaccine for use. This is the second approved vaccine and Ireland has a repurchase agreement for 880,000 doses.

Moderna's jab was found to be 94.1 per cent effective in preventing Covid-19 compared to a placebo, in a clinical trial of 30,400 people. The ease of storage is much greater - it needs to be stored at -20 degrees Celsius rather than the -70 that the Pfizer vaccine requires so the rollout should be much easier.

If it can be done by GPs and pharmacies, it could be quite rapid, although Tanáiste Leo Varadkar said yesterday that “once delivered, it should allow us to increase the number of people we vaccinate by an extra circa 10,000 per week”.

Hopefully this year will also see a return of simple pleasures; of hugging family and friends, of meeting people for a meal or drinks, of playing sport. There are so many things that we used to take for granted that we will now appreciate once more. In time, we will take them for granted again, but that's fine too.

While the start to 2021 seems bleak, we all need to give ourselves a break and congratulate ourselves for making it through a year in which we had to limit the normal human impulses to connect with and touch other people. It's been the strangest year of my life by a huge margin and we've done very well to get this far, ten months into such a strange, alien situation.

We just have to stay at home a bit longer and we can enjoy ourselves again. Here’s to 2021!

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