The arrival of a New Year is an opportunity to renew hope and optimism about the future. This is particularly true of 2021.

There cannot be many people who regret seeing the back of 2020. The coronavirus pandemic has cost a tragically high number of lives as well as causing immense damage to people’s lives and livelihoods.

Help is on its way. Coronavirus vaccines will allow us to reclaim our lives and get our economy moving again. As these vaccines are rolled out the need for restrictions will gradually reduce and life can once again return closer to normality.

It was Walt Disney who said: “The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing.”

It is therefore concerning to see from the latest figures that Wales is lagging behind England in vaccinating priority groups with a smaller proportion getting the first dose.

In England, more than a million people were given the first dose by January 3. This is around 1.97 per cent of the population. NHS England has said 60 per cent of doses have gone to people aged over 80.

The figure in Wales means that approximately only 1.56 per cent have been vaccinated up to January 3. This is fewer than other UK nations and the gap appears to be growing.

If vaccinations were being given at the same rate as in England, a further 13,000 people would have received their first jab.

The Welsh Government must act to speed up the number of vaccinations.

It is disappointing that the Welsh health minister has said he will not be setting targets for the number of vaccinations to be delivered in the coming weeks, preferring to rely on a number of “milestones”.

This stands in marked contrast to the UK government which has appointed a minister with responsibility for the vaccination programme.

I welcome the news that pharmacies in Wales are set to become involved in the vaccination process.

We need to go further.

Vaccination centres must be open round the clock to deliver a targeted vaccination programme.

Full use must be made of Armed Forces field hospitals and mobile vaccination teams to reach remote communities.

And we must accelerate and expand the number of trained volunteers to provide sufficient vaccinators.

The return to normality is now within our grasp.

To quote Walt Disney again: “All our dreams can come true if we have the courage to pursue them.”