If a week is a long time in politics, it is even longer in the process of public reception of a Covid-19 vaccine. This week began with much dancing in the streets to celebrate the arrival of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine; since then, it has been downhill all the way for this great British invention.

From the start, there was something a trifle forced about the laudatory reception accorded to the vaccine, something decidedly chauvinistic. After the triumphant announcements from an American and a German-American initiative of successful vaccine developments, here was a British contender that could knock the socks off any competition. The acclaim was reminiscent of 1950s Pathe newsreels hailing a new development in widget technology (“And it’s all British-made too!”).