BARNARD CASTLE has had an interesting pandemic, catapulted into the spotlight by Dominic Cummings, the Prime Minister’s chief advisor, taking a car journey to test his eyesight there.

That trip gave an unexpected and welcome boost to the Teesdale town’s tourism, and now comes news that GSK is to “fill and finish” the Novavax vaccine in Barney – a more conventional way of winning the headlines.

It is extremely welcome, although there are several large hurdles that the vaccine has to clear before the 60m doses will be going into British arms.

The sub-text to yesterday’s announcement was that, after recent “vaccination nationalism” rows with the EU, Britain needs to become more self-sufficient in vaccine production.

That is very true, although it is difficult to work out what the EU has achieved by picking a fight with AstraZeneca.

However, it is also true that the battle against Covid-19 is very much a global affair, with global scientific knowledge being used by global pharmaceutical companies to save lives around the world. GSK and Novavax are truly global companies, and GSK is working with companies, and governments, in Canada, France, South Korea, Germany and Britain to make medical advances to combat the virus.

So it is a global battle, but Britain has to find the right balance. It has lost too much of its manufacturing capability in too many fields over the years, and once again the sad state of steel is a case in point.