At last there is exceptionally good news, amid the misery of lockdown, the terrible peak of the Covid death toll and pandemic economic attrition: Britain’s vaccine roll-out is turning into a considerable success story. It is a success largely unrecognised by the public, made sceptical by past claims of recovery that were discredited shortly afterwards and by a snakes-and-ladders syndrome typified by the successful development of vaccines being followed almost immediately by alarming mutations of the Covid-19 virus.

The government’s erratic response to the first wave of the pandemic, with inconsistent and constantly changing policies leaving the public bewildered and the UK with a coronavirus death rate among the highest in the world, further contributed to a mood of pessimism, aggravated by the frustrations of life under lockdown. Nor did the Prime Minister’s penchant for setting unrealistic dates for a return to normality and detecting green shoots of recovery that never materialised improve national morale; Boris Johnson has counted more chickens than the manager of an intensive poultry farm.