Gary Burgess: Covid-19 and a healthy coating of Teflon

Credit: ITV Channel TV

They always say not to look at the Facebook comments.

Whenever I publish a story online that's even vaguely contentious you can be absolutely sure there'll be no moderate reaction. It's either "brilliant, well done for telling that story" or "shame on you, you biased so-called journalist".

Thankfully I have a healthy coating of Teflon these days, so I know it comes with the territory.

Why do I mention this?

As Guernsey significantly eased up its border rules on Thursday, the comments under government posts on Facebook were a world away from last year.

Back then it was about Saint Gavin and Dr Brink, effectively, walking on water. The gratitude for their handling of the pandemic was almost universally supportive.

This week? A total split: those grateful for a risk-based return to 'normal' by opening up the borders to easier travel, and those petrified the government has put the economy ahead of the health of those fearing they’re next to be struck down by Covid.

Something similar has been happening in Jersey, too, but in a less dramatic fashion as Jersey hasn't lived through months and months of zero cases - there's always been that background level of cases. On balance that's proved to be manageable most of the time. Last December and January were the exceptions.

Fast forward half a year, though, and the world is a different place. All those at greatest risk of Covid are now vaccinated (or at least have been offered the chance to be), while the programme is making good progress in jabbing the rest of the adult population. Studies are reassuringly showing the vaccine's effect on all domestic variants is high, and even the few fully jabbed who then do catch Covid are not, on the whole, developing a disease that's so serious as to need hospitalisation. They also reduce the risk of passing on the virus to somebody else.

It's a remarkable success story that can easily be forgotten in this.

By mid-August everyone who wants to be fully vaccinated will be. In the meantime all the data out of England shows that while the number of positive cases is following the volume and shape of the December wave, the hospitalisations simply aren't. The link has been broken. Don't take my word for it. Go search out the stats and graphs for yourself. They actually make me emotional to see what science is doing to give us back our freedoms after a year and a bit that I suspect we all want to forget.

Anyhow, to bring this full circle, this isn't me banging the propaganda drum for any government. Indeed I hope the past year has shown I challenge and ask the tough questions. But, throughout, I've always based my reporting, questioning and analysis on facts.

It's so easy, and totally understandable, for us to respond emotionally to events. We're human. It's what we’re wired to do.

I'm in the clinically extremely vulnerable category so I know only too well what that's like.

But with my journo hat on, looking at this stuff dispassionately, I thought it worth getting it said and putting it in black and white: vaccines are working.

There's zero room for complacency. And the 'hands face space' advice that's served me well since last year continues to.

But we do need to find our own individual ways to shift our emotional response to the pandemic.

Covid is endemic. It is likely here forever, just as other coronaviruses are.

If last year's cliche was "the new normal", this year's is "learning to live with Covid".

For some people that shift is going to be difficult.

I hope keeping a focus on facts is helpful.

Read more of Gary's blog posts here.