IN these strange times, yesterday was another sobering day with a record Covid death toll: 1,610 people died, taking the total to well over 90,000. We are nearing the point where we can say that a town the size of Darlington has been wiped out in the last 10 months by this virus.

The shadow health secretary, Jonathan Ashworth, added to the air of despair by tweeting about the figures: "Awful. Horrific. Devastating. And it didn't have to be like this."

On the other side of the coin, infection rates across the North-East are falling, down more than 20 per cent in a week in many places. Although rates are much higher than they were in the autumn, the third lockdown does appear to be working.

And we do appear to be rolling out the vaccination successfully. Another 204,000 people received the jab yesterday taking the total to 4.26m. If the experiences of our letter-writers are anything to go by, it is a well organised operation.

There are bound to be grey areas of dissatisfaction around the edges, but it is a major achievement by so many people, from our local NHS staff right up to our national politicians.

The death toll is, tragically, going to continue to shock us for days to come, but there truly is light at the end of the tunnel, and for that we should be grateful.