From the earliest days when the nightmare of the Covid-19 pandemic closed in on Britain, provoking social and economic paralysis in conjunction with a dismayingly high death rate, there was one longed-for panacea to which the whole country looked forward with desperate hope: the arrival of a vaccine.

Responsible scientific opinion cautioned that an effective vaccine might not be developed until this year. But thanks to the talent and dedication of our  scientific community and their colleagues overseas, that hurdle was passed before the end of 2020. Subsequently, vaccines turned out to resemble buses: you wait ten months and then five come along in quick succession.

Although we are still in lockdown and still seeing too many Covid-related deaths, Britain’s vaccine roll-out has so far been a hugely cheering world-leading success. Since 8 December, the UK has vaccinated more than 7.9 million people – 11.6 per cent of the population – in an exercise that has accelerated, along with growing expertise.