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More than half of the UK’s population has received an initial dose of a Covid-19 vaccine, figures show, in what NHS bosses have called an “astonishing achievement”.
NHS England data up to 23 April shows that a total of 28,102,852 first doses have been administered – a rise of 107,656 on the previous day. This takes the UK total to 33,496,293, a figure expected to rise further when the latest numbers are reported by Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.
As 66,796,807 people are estimated to live in the UK, the figure means more than half the population have at least had a first shot.
Health secretary Matt Hancock said he is “absolutely delighted” about reaching the “brilliant” milestone, adding: “This vaccination programme is our way out of this pandemic. It’s clearly saving lives.”
Hancock said he is thrilled that the uptake among everyone aged 50 and above is more than 95%.
Saffron Cordery, the deputy chief executive of NHS Providers, said staff and volunteers had done an “incredible” job: “It is an astonishing achievement that half of the UK population has now had at least one Covid-19 jab.
“In under five months, frontline NHS staff in trusts and primary care and volunteers have done an incredible job giving out more than 33m first jabs and more than 11m second doses.
“We owe each and every one of them our thanks. We’ve made truly significant progress, but we’ve still got a long way to go until we reach our next major milestone of offering all adults their first jab by the end of July.”
Cordery encouraged people to take up the vaccine when offered one and to continue following coronavirus measures, which she emphasised remain in place to “help ensure this current lockdown is our last”.
Rules on outdoor gatherings differ across the UK’s devolved nations, with England, Wales and Scotland adopting various iterations of the “rule of six”, while Northern Ireland has capped gatherings at 10 people. Indoor household mixing is not yet permitted.
The vaccine rollout is cutting infection levels, with the UK’s number of cases and deaths plummeting after a peak in January. Just one dose of either the Pfizer/BioNTech or Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine appears to be effective in providing a significant level of protection against symptomatic infection.
An initial dose of either jab leads to a two-thirds drop in coronavirus cases, new real-world UK data shows, and is 74% effective against symptomatic infection. After two doses of Pfizer, all cases fell by 70% and symptomatic cases – which are most likely to transmit the virus to others – dropped by 90%.
Experts are still collecting data on two doses of AstraZeneca but say both vaccines are effective, while another study found that both protect against the coronavirus variant first detected in Kent.
The government said a further 32 people had died within 28 days of testing positive for Covid-19 as of Saturday, bringing the total to 127,417.
Separate figures published by the UK’s statistics agencies show there have been 151,000 deaths registered in the UK where Covid-19 was mentioned on the death certificate.
Source: The Guardian
Keyword: Covid vaccine landmark as more than half UK receives initial jab | Vaccines and immunisation