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When my phone pings very early in the morning, it usually announces the arrival of bad news of some sort. But that wasn’t the case today – instead, it was very good news indeed. ¬†Thank God, the United Kingdom awoke to the news that regulatory approval has been given to the broad roll-out of one of the new Covid-19 vaccinations which we have heard so much about recently.

UK Government ministers have been like buses today – having lain low for many months, they all apeared like so many buses today, eager to tell us that vaccinations are planned to begin next week. And then at lunchtime, the First Minister of Scotland gave her usual daily TV briefing and from the moment she appeared on camera, she could barely contain her joy – I don’t recall the last time I saw her smile like that. She, too, said that the roll-out of the vaccination programme will begin in Scotland next Tuesday.

This means that the United Kingdom is the first country to approve a vaccination and to commence it’s delivery to the population. I’m not sure the United States will be thrilled about that, but there you are.

I think at this particular moment – and especially with a fairly bleak Christmas approaching rapidly – a little bit of good news was much needed.

Over this year, there has been so very much bad news – not least of all the daily numbers of those who have died because of this awful virus, together with all those who have been made seriously ill. For those who have lost a loved one, today will be bittersweet, no doubt.

Also at this point, we need to remember that wonderful though this news most certainly is, it leads to questions about equity of availability of vaccines in other places – and especially in the poorer nations. Their need is as great as ours and we can’t forget that.

Speaking as a Catholic, I notice the date on which the vaccinations will commence – 8 December, the feast of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary. I have never believed in coincidences – everything happens in it’s own appointed time and for a particular reason, even when we cannot see the reason. When I think about these two things coming together on the same day, I cannot help but smile and say ‘thank You’.

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