WHAT a feeling. Waking up on Wednesday and switching the radio on brought such welcome cheer. Help was finally on the way. Could there be an eventual respite from the loneliness, the isolation, the economic slaughter taking place on the high street, the two-metre guesswork dancing, the mask-wearing, the lack of hugs, the sheer boredom and so much more?

A chirpy Matt Hancock was telling us that the UK was the first country in the world to approve the Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine, and that vaccinations would begin next week, and that 40 million doses would be winging their way from Belgium, enough to vaccinate 20 million of us.

For the first morning in what felt like forever, instead of the sense of foreboding that had become my default wake-up setting, I felt a joyous rush of hope. What a monumental tribute to the hard work of the scientists who had thrown everything at finding a vaccine, the long, late hours in labs, the squishing of ten years' work into 11 months, the global collaborations, the new ways of working, and the gathering together of great minds from diverse backgrounds on dodgy Zoom connections.

It made the heart sing. What an incredible moment. Tuning back into the wireless and hearing Hancock say they’d been able to speed things up “because of Brexit” somehow managed to diminish the moment entirely. It sounded a bit like he was trying to share in the glory of the day, by crediting Brexit, instead of the brilliance of world-renowned experts. The spirit of Brexit didn’t feel like it should be the over-riding tone of Wednesday. To double-check, I looked at the Twitter feeds of the usual Brexit supporters. Apart from the odd, surly ‘I’ll not be having any vaccinations’ there was very little, if any, mention of what will surely be a momentous day in our history.

Fortunately, by 5 o’ clock his boss, Boris Johnson, never shy of reaping a bit of political capital himself, had realised that wasn’t perhaps the right look. Although asked repeatedly about whether this was “our first Brexit bonus”, Johnson wouldn’t go there, instead saying: “These are global efforts. You’ve got scientists around the world coming together to make this possible, and it’s a truly international thing and very moving to see it.”

And it really was moving to see. It felt like a day when expertise triumphed over anti-intellectualism. A day very far removed from that day during the Vote Leave campaign when we were told by Michael Gove that people had “had enough of experts”, or when Donald Trump told Californians that “science doesn’t know actually.” It felt like the day when our Prime Minister finally accepted that the experts had to be listened to because they knew what they were talking about. Yes, there are still unanswered questions like how long will we be immune after the shot, and can we still transmit the virus, but this felt like a step in the right direction.

Later, watching the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency press conference and scientists like Dr June Raine, Professor Sir Munir Pirmohamed and Professor Wei Shen Lim meticulously and clearly take us through how the vaccine had been approved and how the rollout would take place, filled me with emotion. It felt like a day when diversity triumphed too. Experts from far flung places who had made the nations and regions of Britain their home, led by a woman, creating such brilliant role models for our next generation of scientists.

And these were the people who, not only have the expertise but also the real world and life experiences to make sure that the rollout and distribution of the vaccine would take account of the diversity of age, gender, ethnicity, and geographical spread of our country.

I would like to think the diverse backgrounds of the creators of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine created by 2nd generation immigrants to Germany from Turkey will pay us all dividends in the longer term. The companies have been applauded for making sure that more volunteers from ethnic minorities were recruited because the scientists recognised that those communities were at high risk of being adversely affected by Covid-19.

If the vaccine is not adopted by more than 70%, its efficacy is reduced for all of us, so it was vital they had a properly representative sample during those important trials. We need it to work for all groups. We are in this together whether we like it or not.

We have to remember that the the virus doesn’t care about national borders, political point scoring or flag-waving. It’s a global pandemic requiring global action. What it is afraid of is big brains, from diverse backgrounds getting together to problem solve and give us our lives back.

Our columns are a platform for writers to express their opinions. They do not necessarily represent the views of The Herald.