Let’s take hope and smile but also step up the battle too - Editor's comment

We are at a critical point in the fight against Covid. The sobering daily figures remind us that the death toll is continuing to rise and the UK now has the highest death rate in the world.

Thursday, 21st January 2021, 11:34 am

Today’s front page is cause for celebration – more Sheffielders are now vaccinated than have suffered with this wretched disease – but also more reason than ever to keep doing the right things.

We must never, not for one minute, forget the hundreds of our friends and relatives who have died. They are not numbers, they are parts of our hearts and are dearly missed. That is why we will follow the rules as closely as ever. While the number of new infections appears to be falling, we have a very long way to go.

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Stay home and stay safe – for more reasons than yesterday: Editor's comment

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Ann Duggan, the first patient to be vaccinated in Doncaster

That is why The Star and its sister titles across JPI Media are pressing for clarity from ministers on three crucial elements of vaccine policy.

We do so in a spirit of goodwill and confidence that the vaccines team is willing to take on board constructive advice so as many people as possible can receive their jab.

We face three real crunch issues as the Prime Minister yesterday warned in Parliament that it will be hard to reach a target of vaccinating 15 million of our country’s most vulnerable by February 15 because of the issues of supply.

First there is a real concern over the manufacture and supply of the vaccines.

Pfizer has said it is reducing deliveries for the next three to four weeks while it makes improvements to its factory in Belgium, while AstraZeneca expects to scale up to two million doses per week before or by mid-February.

There are fears these inconsistencies will impact the speed of the roll-out of the vaccine.

The second issue is the distance between the most vulnerable, who urgently need the jab, and the vaccination centres themselves.

And thirdly the information that is available to them so they know what they must do next.

Our petition to ensure that every one of the 11,000 community pharmacies - who stand ready and willing to play their part - last night hit more than 80,000 signatures. It is essential that no one is more than ten minutes away from a vaccination centre. Please show your support and sign it at http://chng.it/tYfL9n4GB9

In these confusing and worrying times, local journalism is more vital than ever. Thanks to everyone who helps us ask the questions that matter by taking out a digital subscription or buying a paper. We stand together. Nancy Fielder, editor.