Coronavirus vaccine just part of the pandemic solution – we must also stay safe

Saira Khan is determined to stay active during the lockdown with home workouts (Image: Saira Khan)

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The world breathed a sigh of relief, medics were buoyant at the breakthrough and stock markets reacted favourably too.

After eight long, painful and wholly miserable months of this pandemic, a viable vaccine appears to be on the horizon.

It could even be available next month, giving hope to millions living in fear of catching Covid-19.

So what’s not to like, you may ask. Surely this light at the end of the tunnel is what we all want? Yes, in a word.

But the question for many is, would we actually have the ­vaccine? And that’s where it gets tricky.

The Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced a second lockdown last month to try and curb the second wave of Coronavirus
(Image: AFP via Getty Images)

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I polled my 85,000 Instagram followers and 44 per cent said they wouldn’t take it, while 56 per cent said yes.

Sceptics wonder how a vaccine can be produced so quickly and worry about possible side-effects.

Those happy to take it want lockdown to end and to get back to normal.

I don’t usually sit on the fence but on this I am struggling to make

a straightforward decision. On the one hand, I’m a huge supporter of vaccinations and had all my children immunised.

But on the other, I also believe the best way I can protect myself – from not just Covid, but other diseases – is to stay fit and healthy and boost my immune system as best as I can.

For me, with gyms closed, that means a home workout here and there.

I don’t want to be forced to take something that I don’t need or that I am not ready for.

The reality, experts tell us, is that this virus isn’t going away and that we must learn to live with it.

Yet even scientific advisers put the chances of dying from coronavirus infection at 0.5 to one per cent. So why isn’t the Government saying more about healthy lifestyle?

It’s not just about losing weight – though, in Covid terms, that helps.

It’s about being active, eating well, sleeping better and just being stronger to fight off any infection that might come your way.

The message was loud and clear in the first lockdown. People worked out with Joe Wicks or took up running and you sensed the importance of looking after both body and mind was acknowledged.

This time, I fear many are so deflated and depressed that they are pinning all their hopes on a vaccine and no longer putting health and wellbeing first.

I’ve really struggled with negative messaging the Government has spewed out, using language that can spread fear and anxiety.

I applaud Cambridge University academic Prof Sir Stephen O’Rahilly, who survived Covid.

He says it’s not about dropping a trouser size or a dress size – it’s about firing up your body and shifting fat cells “wreaking havoc” in the liver, muscle and other tissues. He’s the kind of expert I listen to.

Yes, this vaccine is a big step in the right direction and the vulnerable and high-risk groups should get it first. But for the rest of us the message should be ‘keep safe and look after your health’.

If you do get Covid, you need to be strong to fight it and stay out of hospital.

And that is ultimately how we are going to protect ourselves and our beloved NHS.