Throughout the coronavirus crisis, I have been in constant contact with local businesses, chambers of commerce, tourist and hospitality organisations, public-health officials and local councils and dealt with thousands of questions and issues from concerned constituents.
I have been in left in no doubt as to the difficulties faced daily by people throughout our communities and the damage done by these restrictions on our lives, however needed they may be.
As we enter the new year, with rising cases across the country and the comprehensive quarantine that has now been imposed, I do understand that many will be feeling dejected and exhausted by the current situation, as the strain on our professions, social lives and morale takes its toll.
But at the time of writing this, I have just come away from briefings about the local and national situation. Unless we adopt these strict quarantine measures, it is clear to me that there is a severe risk that the NHS will be unable to cope with the mounting pressures of the new variant of the disease. It is essential, therefore, that we should all make this one last heave to reach the safe ground ahead of us that will be created by the vaccination programme.
Following Britain becoming the first country in the world to start immunising patients, more than a million people have now been vaccinated thanks to the approval of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine. I have learned today of the advanced plans here in Devon for the exponential acceleration of the programme now that the British AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine, which is much easier to administer, has also been given the go ahead by the regulators, with the first jabs taking place in the first full week of January. The UK has sponsored the development of this vaccine and secured 100 million doses - enough for most of the population.
More than 730 vaccination sites have already been established in the UK and hundreds more are opening soon to take the total to over 1,000, 104 of them in Devon, helping those who are most at risk from COVID-19 to access vaccines for free, regardless of where they live.
At the end of December, centres run by local GPs opened their doors in Holsworthy, Barnstaple and Exeter while North Devon District Hospital will join the network of hospital hubs delivering vaccinations.
And now over 5,000 Armed Forces personnel are currently deployed to support the response to the Coronavirus across the UK, working on 70 different tasks ranging from schools testing to the administering of vaccines.
With two vaccines now approved and the programme increasing each day, there is undoubtedly perceptible light at the end of the tunnel. Throughout this crisis, by the sacrifices and efforts of millions, we have managed to prevent the capacity of the NHS from being overwhelmed. We must not waste those magnificent efforts but see this vital task through to its end.