The UK has seen a new record for the most coronavirus jabs given out over 24 hours, the second time in consecutive days that figure has been broken.
A total of 711,156 doses were given across the UK on Friday, vaccinations minister Nadhim Zahawi confirmed on Saturday. 589,675 of those were first doses and 121,481 were second.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson was one of those to have their first COVID-19 vaccine after he was given the AstraZeneca jab at St Thomas’ Hospital on Friday.
The previous record was set on Thursday when a total of 660,276 doses were administered – 528,260 first jabs and 132,016 second doses.
A total of 26,853,407 people have now had a first dose of the vaccine and 2,132,551 have had their second jab.
The UK also reported another 96 deaths within 28 days of a positive test on Saturday, and a further 5,587 cases.
On Saturday, it emerged that more than half of the UK’s adult population had now received their first dose, a milestone hailed by Prime Minister Boris Johnson as a “fantastic achievement”.
That means Britain and Northern Ireland are around five million short of reaching the second target – vaccinating the first nine priority groups by 15 April. Current progress suggests that target will be met ahead of time.
Despite that, NHS England said on Wednesday a significant shortfall in doses is expected from 29 March for about four weeks.
That could mean the first group of under-50s may have to wait until May to get a jab, despite doctors having planned to start that group in April.
Mr Johnson said a delay in deliveries from India and the need to retest a batch of 1.7 million doses was behind the delay.
But he maintained that the UK is still on track to offer all adults a first dose by the end of June.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock remained confident that the next part of the roadmap out of lockdown would continue as set out, with six people from different households allowed to meet outside and the return of outdoor organised sports from 28 March.
“We’re on track to meet the commitments we’ve made to vaccinate the whole population, offer that first jab by the end of July, and to meet the date set out in the roadmap, but we’ll stay vigilant and we’ll be cautious and careful in our approach,” he said.
As the UK set its daily vaccine record, thousands of anti-lockdown campaigners, many not wearing face masks, gathered in London and marched down Oxford Street to Whitehall.
A group of more than 60 MPs and peers also urged Home Secretary Priti Patel in a letter on Saturday to relax COVID-19 restrictions for protests to take place.
In response, a government spokesman said: “While we are still in a pandemic, we continue to urge people to avoid mass gatherings, in line with wider coronavirus restrictions.”