Half of adults in Britain will have been vaccinated with both Covid jabs by the end of the week as Matt Hancock hails the rollout as ‘fantastic progress’
- Official figures show 39,068,346 people have had their first Covid vaccination
- Number of patients in hospital being treated for virus falls despite Indian variant
- Deaths have risen slightly with 59 recorded over past seven days, up 44 per cent
Three-quarters of adults will have received at least one Covid jab within days – and almost half will be vaccinated with both doses before the end of the week.
As the latest milestones of Britain’s extraordinary vaccination programme approach, official figures showed yesterday that 39,068,346 people have had their first shot and 24,892,416 have had the second.
As Health Secretary Matt Hancock hailed the ‘fantastic progress’, the number of Covid patients being treated in hospital continued to fall despite an increase of cases involving the Indian variant. Just 870 people with coronavirus are being treated in UK hospitals – the lowest figure since mid-September.
Official figures showed yesterday that 39,068,346 people have had their first shot in Britain
But deaths and hospital admissions have risen slightly. In the past seven days, 59 Covid-related deaths were recorded, up 44 per cent on the previous week, and 870 new hospital admissions, up 23 per cent.
Cases have also risen 23 per cent week on week, with 21,469 recorded in the past seven days.
However, fears that the vaccination campaign could be hampered by vaccine hesitancy or apathy in younger groups appears unfounded. More than half of those in their 30s in England are already jabbed, even though invitations to that group were sent out only a fortnight ago.
Sir Simon Stevens, chief executive of NHS England, said: ‘This success is no happy accident but the result of months of careful planning and the sheer hard work and dedication of NHS staff.’
Health Secretary Matt Hancock hailed the ‘fantastic progress’ of the vaccination programme
It comes as Chancellor Rishi Sunak said it was not certain that the complete lifting of Covid restrictions, planned for June 21, would happen. In an interview with The Mail on Sunday, he said: ‘We will know more as we approach the date.’ But he said he was confident that the economy would bounce back thanks to £140 billion in savings amassed during lockdown.
Mr Hancock urged those eligible for vaccination, who include the vast majority of adults, to take up the offer, adding: ‘Vaccines are saving lives, are safe, effective and our way out of this devastating pandemic.’
The rapid pace means Ministers are increasingly confident of reaching the target of offering a first jab to all over-18s by the end of July. They are now looking ahead to an autumn booster campaign in which over-50s could get a third shot – potentially of a different vaccine to the one they’ve already received.
The idea is to provide broader protection against Covid by ‘mix and matching’ a vaccine such as Pfizer or AstraZeneca with another.
One of the eight vaccines being tested in a Government-funded ‘COV-Boost’ trial into a third jab is the single-shot Janssen vaccine, which was approved by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency on Friday. It was 85 per cent effective at stopping severe Covid illness in trials.
A Government source indicated that some of the 20 million Janssen doses ordered could be used as boosters if the trial is successful.
Meanwhile, it was claimed last night that Ministers failed to reveal the presence of the Indian variant in the UK for a fortnight after they were alerted. The Sunday Times reported that Public Health England sounded the alarm on April 1, but no official statement was made until April 15. India was not placed on the travel ‘red list’ until April 23.
It said that during those three weeks, more than 20,000 passengers flew into Britain from India.
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