Why this is the moment the struggle to beat Covid-19 really changes

This is the moment things will really change.

The approval of the Oxford/Astra Zeneca vaccine is probably the real game changer in the whole of this pandemic for a number of reasons.

Firstly, and perhaps most importantly, the news comes with a decision by the government to give as many at risk and older people the first dose in as short a time possible.

This is hugely significant because not only does it mean twice the number of people will get it in the next few weeks and months but also because it reduces the risk of severe disease or illness it will have a massive effect on the NHS and indeed patients, ie no one who has the first dose will get seriously ill.

The vaccine jabs promise to reunite families in the long run. Credit: PA

The second reason this will change things dramatically is that mass vaccinations will now start next week.

Yes, some people are receiving the Pfizer vaccine but actually it’s still quite small numbers.

Only around 600,000 have had it so far and it’s slow because of the logistical challenges in getting it to surgeries and care homes.

The Oxford vaccine will be rolled out in the same way the flu vaccine is, tried and tested systems that work and effectively guarantee the immunisation of around 20 million people in three months.

Apply that to the Covid vaccine and you’ve protected every over 50-year-old and vulnerable person by the Spring.

The third reason this is a good day is that this vaccine is manufactured here, we have five million doses ready to go already, AZ will produce two million more a week and it’s cheaper than the Pfizer vaccine.

And finally, the fourth reason is that this comes at a time when the NHS in many parts of the country is struggling to cope with demand from Covid patients and cases hit record levels yesterday.

53,000 cases yesterday is astonishing, given the fact huge numbers of us are living in Tier 4 and we are all supposed to be under effective lockdown.

I don’t want to overegg this because, of course, anything could happen between now and the summer but something would have to go monumentally wrong now for this vaccine not to have a life-changing impact on this pandemic between now and then.