By John Glen MP
I have spent much of lockdown working from home in Salisbury, conducting constituency and Treasury meetings back- to-back every day via Zoom and MS Teams.
As a way of keeping fit and to combat screen weariness, I take long walks around the constituency. People have told me that enjoying the countryside and open spaces on their doorsteps is a lifeline in these difficult times and enhanced their love of nature.
With the end of the pandemic coming into sight, there is much about 2020 and early 2021 we will consign to history, but I hope a renewed appreciation for the beauty of South Wiltshire will linger long in our memories and help to inform policy-making for years to come.
As I write, we are nearing the end of week three of the vaccine roll-out which has protected more than five million of the most clinically vulnerable.
The rapid scaling up of the vaccination programme included a working week in which two million doses were given and a single day of 467,000 jabs.
By the time you are reading this, I am confident that both those records will have been surpassed and, if you are part of any of the first wave of priority groups, you will have either had your vaccination or will not have long to wait.
The NHS are experts in vaccine deployment and carrying out this massive task efficiently and safely is once again showing it at its very best. I have received heart-warming emails full of high praise for the clinicians and volunteers administering the vaccine at Wilton Community Hall, the cathedral and Tidworth Leisure Centre, among many other locations.
More pop-up centres and vaccinators will come on stream as they are needed.
To those who cannot wait to get their jab, I am sympathetic. We all yearn for the end of this pandemic and restoration of normality, but the millions of doses of the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine were a pre-order, pending regulatory approval but were not all manufactured in advance and sitting in some warehouse awaiting distribution.
AstraZeneca and others are continuing to scale up manufacturing and, our scrupulous safety regime in this country means each batch has to be individually inspected and signed off before being distributed.
I am confident the vaccine will continue to be administered as fast as it can be produced. The Government is committed to enhancing the roll-out by any means possible and committed to moving to 24/7 vaccination as soon as supplies are sufficient to sustain it.
It is vital we use every moment to save as many lives and livelihoods as possible.