COVID-19: More than 25 million people in the UK have now had their first dose of a coronavirus vaccine
More than 25 million people in the UK have now had their first dose of a coronavirus vaccine.
Figures from the Department of Health show almost 50% of all British adults have received a jab – increasing to 90% of those who are clinically extremely vulnerable, and 95% of over-65s.
The latest data shows that 5,758 new COVID-19 cases have been reported on Wednesday, compared with 5,294 on Tuesday. Meanwhile, 141 people have died within 28 days of a positive test – slightly higher than Tuesday’s total of 110.
A total of 25,273,226 people have had their first Pfizer or Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine, while 1,759,445 have had their second dose.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: "This latest milestone is an incredible achievement – representing 25 million reasons to be confident for the future as we cautiously reopen society. Thank you once again to the brilliant NHS, scientists, Armed Forces, volunteers, and all those who’ve helped our rollout."
The milestone means the government is well on its way to meeting a target of offering a jab to all 32 million people in the top nine priority groups by 15 April.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock confirmed the rollout is ahead of schedule – and urged everyone who is eligible for a jab to come forward.
He added: "This is an extraordinary feat, coming exactly 100 days after Margaret Keenan received the first authorised jab in the whole world.
"It has been a national mission, one of the one of the biggest logistical exercises since the war and I’d like to thank everyone who played their part."
And vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi said this "moves us one step closer to safely seeing our friends and family again".
The rollout of coronavirus jabs in the UK has been prioritised by age rather than occupation, amid fears that this would have slowed down the ambitious programme.
Upbeat news surrounding the country’s progress has been overshadowed by the EU threatening to block vaccine exports to the UK, and other places with markedly higher vaccination rates.
A tracker on the Our World In Data website suggests that the EU’s rate of vaccine doses administered per 100 people stands at 11.81 – far behind the UK on 39.04, and the US on 33.11.
With the trading bloc now facing a third wave of coronavirus infections, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen is under pressure – and has vowed that she is "ready to use whatever tool we need" to ensure vaccines are delivered reliably in the EU.
In other developments, Boris Johnson is expected to get his Oxford/AstraZeneca jab later this week.
British scientists have emphasised this vaccine is safe after reports on the continent of some people suffering blood clots after being receiving it.
A World Health Organisation vaccine safety panel has said it believes the benefits of the Oxford/AstraZeneca jab outweigh its risks, and is recommending that vaccinations continue.
And according to the European Medicines Agency, a total of 30 cases of blood clotting have been reported among almost five million people who have received this jab as of 10 March.