More than 60 per cent of adults in the UK have now received two doses of the Covid vaccine, as the rollout continues with pace.
The milestone follows last week’s extension of the vaccine invite to all over-18s in the UK.
75m doses of the Covid vaccines have now been administered in the UK, the Department of Health and Social Care said in its latest update.
43m first doses of the vaccine have been administered across the country – 83 per cent of the adult population. Over 31m people have now secured “the fullest possible protection” through a second jab, the DHSC said.
The UK reported 16,135 new Covid cases on Wednesday – the highest number of daily infections since the beginning of February.
Coronavirus-related deaths remained low, however, with 19 deaths reported in the latest 24-hour period.
Reports emerged earlier today that 41 cases of a mutation of the Delta variant of coronavirus, being labelled “Delta plus”, have been found in England.
Asked if the government knows if the vaccines are effective against the mutation, the Prime Minister’s official spokesperson said: “Not at this stage. We have not got trial results of that.
“It’s something that we are monitoring carefully and there is work going on both here and internationally on this.
Speaking at the Downing Street press conference, vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi said that the vaccine programme has already saved 14,000 lives. “I can share that now it has prevented over 44,500 hospitalisations in England alone,” he said. “That’s 2,500 hospitalisations prevented in the past two weeks.”
Zahawi said that a “concerted community effort” had reduced vaccine hesitancy throughout the country, particularly among ethnic minorities.
The government and health officials will now “hone in” on areas where the vaccine take up has been lower, Zahawi said.
The minister announced that a dedicated London summit will take place on Friday, aiming to scrutinise why the take-up of first vaccine doses in London “is slightly behind compared to others in the UK”.
PHE analysis published last week showed that both the Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccines are over 90 per cent effective at preventing hospitalisations from the Delta variant after two doses, and 75 per cent effective after one dose.