The rollout of the coronavirus vaccine is under way across the UK, giving hope for a way out of the crisis which changed our lives nearly a year ago.

But developing a vaccine wouldn't have been possible without a pool of volunteers from across the four nations, with nearly 400 people from Watford putting their name forward to be a part of the effort.

Researchers need people to take part in studies to find out which potential vaccine is most effective, and those involved are required to visit a hospital or research site every few months.

NHS Digital data shows 395 people from Watford had volunteered to take part in coronavirus vaccine studies as of Sunday morning.

Of those, the largest proportion (42 per cent) were aged between 40 and 59, while 37 per cent were aged 18 to 39.

In South West Hertfordshire, a total of 3,265 people have volunteered to be part of vaccine studies - just over 1,000 people were from St Albans.

Across the East of England as a whole, 34,990 people had signed up by January 10, as the national army of volunteers reached over 381,000.

The figure is rising daily, as people can still put themselves forward to potentially take part in clinical trials.

Not everyone who signs up will take part in a study, which normally involves answering questions, undergoing blood tests and injections – which could be the vaccine – and keeping a diary of any symptoms between hospital visits.

The NHS, which worked with the National Institute for Health Research to provide a volunteer service, said: "Vaccines are the most effective way to prevent infectious diseases. They are designed so they do not give people the infection they're protecting against.

"Research into vaccines is the only way to find out which ones will work."

Mass vaccination hubs at seven sites across England – including one in Hertfordshire - will begin operations this week.

Hubs will open in London, Newcastle, Manchester, Birmingham, Bristol, Surrey and Stevenage, Number 10 said.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson believes the rollout of vaccines will provide a route out of the third national lockdown.

In a televised address to the nation, he said people in the top four priority groups should receive a jab by mid-February.