The Guardian view on responding to the Covid-19 surge: not enough | Editorial

Millions more are in tier 4 and schools face a delayed return – but tougher action is needed to seize the opportunity offered by the new vaccine

The contrast between the good news and the bleak could not have been starker. The UK’s approval of the low-cost, highly efficacious Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine represents a shining moment of hope. Never has it been more needed.

The announcement came as ambulances queued for hours outside overwhelmed hospitals in London and Birmingham, and Essex declared a major incident due to the pressure on health services. For a second day, more than 50,000 cases were recorded, along with 981 deaths. The number of hospitalised patients, at 23,771, has surpassed the first-wave peak and is almost certainly still rising; the impact of the reckless Christmas relaxation has yet to be felt. As grim as the picture is, it could soon become much worse: this is, as Professor Jonathan Van-Tam warned, a very dangerous situation.

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