It was less than two weeks ago that I stood here and described the nightmarish data that was coming out of Milton Keynes University Hospital. The situation was grim then, and it is clear today that we are yet to turn the tide on the latest rise in cases. There are some dark days ahead. This lockdown will be different from the last. The nights are longer, the days are colder, and many people will have gone for months without seeing friends and family.
As ever, I think about the amazing staff at Milton Keynes University Hospital. Day in, day out, they go to work knowing that there is a killer virus in their workplace, worrying about not only their own safety but taking the virus home to their loved ones. Now they face the disgraceful prospect of encountering conspiracy theorists and anti-vaxxers protesting and shouting abuse as they enter their workplace. Their service to our country is invaluable. We are right to be proud of our NHS and all those who work so hard for us.
There are a very difficult few weeks ahead. Every day brings news that nobody wants to hear—news of more people falling ill, news of more people admitted to hospital and the most tragic news of all: news of people losing their lives. In these dark times, even as our nation grows weary of the restrictions and each day carries news that more families have lost a loved one, there is hope. We heard today from the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care that more than 2.3 million people across the United Kingdom have received the vaccination.
The speed at which the vaccine is being rolled out is amazing. It is an example of what we do best as a country. The hope offered by these vaccines is thanks to our public sector and our private sector pulling together. It is thanks to the knowledge and dedication of our world-class universities and the dynamism of our pharmaceutical industry. The hope is due to the expertise of our armed forces, the selflessness of our volunteers and the tireless dedication of health workers. We will make it through these dark days. Our victory over this pandemic will be yet another example of the strength and resolve of our nation and what we can achieve when we pull together.