It takes very little for our free and fearless press to break out the Vision and Boundless Hope and Optimism in this time of lockdown certainty, and exit strategy uncertainty. So it was when they got a whiff of good Coronavirus news: a vaccine had emerged, blinking, into the media spotlight. We were to be delivered of the hell of No Sport And No Pubs Open. The creativity of the tabloid press was cranked up to the max.
But it should be noted that words like “hope”, “target”, “80% confident”, and “awaiting … approval” have been included, rather than “racing certainty”. Sadly, this did not make the headline thundering out of today’s Daily Mail, which proclaims “VACCINE HOPE FOR BRITAIN …UK team’s breakthrough … Trials set for next week … A million jabs by September”. Only later on is it conceded that the million jabs “could” be ready.
Likewise with the Murdoch goons at the Super Soaraway Currant Bun, which simply screams “Cure Boost … JAB FAB …Vaccine test in 1wk … ‘1m doses by Sept’”. Ah, those all-important quote marks once more. So what is the reality?the contents of which appear to be the source for the outbreak of Ron Hopeful headlines. Once again, the small print is key.
Here are the key passages: “Gilbert is understandably cautious when asked to map out a timetable for the trial, but hopes to have vaccinated 500 volunteers by mid-May; this will be followed by an extension of the maximum age of trial volunteers from 55 to 70 years, later moving on to the over-70 age group”. “Understandably cautious” and “hopes”.
Which means the likelihood is of that million jabs coming on stream by the end of the year, rather than September. Even that may be optimistic: we don’t yet know that the vaccine will work at all. That may not matter to the tabloid press, but it will to most other people.
Our free and fearless press has jumped the gun once more. And shot itself in the foot.