On this day, a year ago, we lacked the one thing we needed most of all in our fight against COVID: an approved vaccine to deploy to the people of the UK.
Tomorrow, a year ago, that all changed. On 2nd December 2020 our regulator, the MHRA, became the first in the world to approve the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine; a few weeks later the AstraZeneca vaccine was licensed.
Prof Jonathan Van-Tam at a Downing Street briefing on boosters on Monday Credit: AFP
A vast amount of work had led up to that point, and a vast amount of work has followed to get those vital jabs into arms.
That was a real turning point in the battle with the pandemic. On 8th December, just 6 days after approval, Margaret Keenan became the first person in the world to receive a deployed dose of the Pfizer vaccine.
Over 115 million vaccinations later, we can see the powerful impact the UK deployed vaccines (Moderna, Pfizer and AstraZeneca) have had in saving lives, reducing serious illness, and taking pressure of the NHS.
The huge delivery of vaccination by the NHS and volunteers, and the huge take up of vaccination by us all has allowed us to return to many of the things we love.
Right now, there is again uncertainty, because of the new Omicron variant and what that will mean. Scientists have always been clear that variants will happen.
But when a variant first appears one of the things we really need to know is if our vaccines will be affected.
So scientists around the world are working round the clock to find out as much as possible on the new variant.
If Omicron does affect the protection from our vaccines after two doses, then the best response for now is to get boosters (a third dose) into arms.
Both booster vaccines (Moderna and Pfizer) vastly increase the antibody response, and we hope that will increase protection against Omicron.
The JCVI (Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation) has updated its booster advice to apply to all adults. Of course, this has to be in priority order by age as it was back when we started the programme.
The NHS will call you forward when it is your turn, and please do answer that call.
Even if, as we all hope, the emerging data on Omicron over the next few weeks is reassuring then this action on boosters will still be a major leg up towards getting us through a difficult winter and into hopefully a much better spring.
Christmas is a time we usually spend with family and friends, often with older or vulnerable loved ones, who are at greater risk from COVID. The best present you can give is keeping them safe.
Even Santa can’t beat that. Seasons Greetings to all sunsational Sun readers.
Prof Van Tam explains why Covid booster jabs are necessary this winter