The number of people to have had the first dose of a COVID vaccine is nearing 25 million as the UK reported another 64 deaths on Monday.
Some 5,089 new cases of the virus were reported on Monday, compared with the 4,618 cases and 52 deaths announced on Sunday.
Another 257,010 people have been given their first dose of the vaccine in the last 24 hours, while a total of 1,610,280 people have now had their second dose – an increase of 25,371 from Sunday.
Among those to have the jab was Northern Ireland chief medical officer Michael McBride, who received his first dose of the Oxford/AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine at the Ulster Hospital COVID-19 vaccination centre in Belfast.
Professor Anthony Harnden, deputy chairman of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), told the BBC that all over-50s in the UK can expect to be vaccinated in the next few weeks.
The over-50s are the last of the first nine groups the government said it needed to target if it aimed to lower the number of COVID-19 sufferers needing hospital treatment.
Prof Harnden told BBC Breakfast: “Most people over the age of 50 will be vaccinated really within the next few weeks.
“Those first nine priority groups included 99% of all hospitalisations and deaths, certainly in wave one of the pandemic, so we’re feeling very optimistic.”
Meanwhile, the total number of reported COVID-19 tests carried out in the UK since the start of the pandemic, as of Monday, has passed 100 million.
It comes after surge testing has been extended to two more areas of London after cases of the South Africa COVID variant was discovered.
The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) said additional testing and genomic sequencing is being used in Southwark – within the SE5 postcode area – and in parts of Harrow with the HA2 and HA3 postcodes.
Enhanced contract tracing will be used for people who test positive with the variant, the DHSC has said.
The head of the Oxford University vaccine group has moved to reassure people that the AstraZeneca vaccine does not cause blood clots after a number of countries suspended use of the jab.
Professor Andrew Pollard, whose team developed the vaccine with AstraZeneca, said it was right that regulators investigates reports of blood clots, but added that “very reassuring” data from millions of poeple showed there is no link.
(c) Sky News 2021: Number of people to have had first COVID vaccine dose nears 25 million