A record 324,233 more people received their Covid-19 jab last Friday, further boosting hopes that Britain will hit its target of 15 million vaccinated by mid-February.
As the total number of injections soared to 3.56 million – meaning more people in the UK have received the first dose of the jab than have had Covid – Vaccines Minister Nadhim Zahawi told The Mail on Sunday: ‘This is another important milestone, every jab is another vulnerable person protected or a brilliant hero on the frontline protected.’
The daily rate of jabs more than doubled between Monday and Friday. To reach the 15 million target, an average of 369,000 a day will need to be given a jab until February 15.
People queue as Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson visits a Covid-19 vaccination centre at Ashton Stadium in Bristol, Britain, on January 11 this year
Mr Johnson pictured above during a media briefing on coronavirus in Downing Street, London
With more Brits now having had at least one vaccination than have tested positive since the start of the pandemic, some towns have already given all those aged over 80 their first injection.
The NHS sent out 641,000 invitations for jabs to people over 80 last week and another 380,000 this weekend.
A further 500,000 will go out this week along with, Ministers hope, the first invites for those in their 70s. Letters are being sent in special blue envelopes to reduce the risk of them being mistaken for junk mail.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock pictured during a media briefing on coronavirus in Downing Street, London, on January 11
It came as:
- A further 1,295 deaths were recorded but the number of daily cases (41,346) fell by more than a third on the figure a week before, suggesting lockdown measures are working;
- Ten new large-scale vaccination centres will open this week including a racecourse and a cathedral. Dozens more High Street pharmacies will also start administering jabs, bolstering 1,000 GP-led services and more than 250 hospitals already providing injections;
- Prince William urged people to have their jabs as his grandparents had done and praised the nation’s success on vaccination, saying: ‘There is a big UK story here to tell’;
- The boss of French pharma giant Valneva said his firm is just ‘days away’ from starting manufacture of another vaccine on British soil;
- Science experts warned a Labour proposal to shake up the pharmaceutical industry would leave Britain struggling to develop its own coronavirus vaccines;
- Airports warned they could be mothballed unless the Government provided more financial support after Boris Johnson suspended all of Britain’s quarantine-free travel corridors from tomorrow;
Mr Zahawi, who last week said he was ‘absolutely confident’ that the UK will meet its target to vaccinate the most vulnerable by February 15, said last night: ‘Together we will protect the most vulnerable and get our freedom back.’
To reach the 15 million target, an average of 369,000 a day will need to be given a jab until February 15 (file photo)
As the vaccine roll-out continues, people over 80 who live up to a 45-minute drive from centres will be given the option of choosing to go to a pharmacy site through the new national booking service.
Ruth May, Chief Nursing Officer for England, said: ‘The NHS vaccination programme is off to a strong start with more than three million people receiving the life-saving jab, including more than a third of those aged 80 or over.’
Meanwhile, Ministers are increasingly confident that the vaccines will work on new variants, although there could be a slight drop in efficacy.