Saturday 23 January 2021 4:45 pm

Covid: UK records a further 1,348 deaths as 5.9m vaccinated

The UK has recorded a further 1,348 coronavirus-related deaths, but new figures showed a sharp increase in the number of Brits to receive a vaccine.

A total of 5,861,351 people have now been given their first dose of the vaccine, while 468,617 people have also had their second jab.

Read more: UK trial for cheap ‘wonder drug’ that could prevent Covid deaths

The figures mean that almost half a million more people have been vaccinated in the last 24 hours.

The latest government data showed another 33,552 cases of coronavirus have also been reported.

It comes amid encouraging signs that the latest lockdown is succeeding in halting the spread of the virus.

The UK’s R rate, which tracks the rate of infection, has dropped sharply to between 0.8 and 1.

The figure is a significant drop on last week, when it was estimated to be between 1.2 and 1.3, according to the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage).

Read more: How many Covid-19 infections are there in your London borough?

The numbers come as senior doctors called for the length of time between administering first and second doses of the Pfizer vaccine to be shortened.

The maximum wait has been extended from three weeks to 12 weeks in a bid to ensure the first jab was rolled out to as many people as possible.

But the British Medical Association today said this decision was “difficult to justify” and called for the wait to be slashed to six weeks. 

Read more: Coronavirus: UK R rate falls to between 0.8 and 1

A leading scientist last week said infections appeared that have passed the peak in London, with a dramatic drop in case numbers in the capital.

However, Prime Minister Boris Johnson yesterday warned that a new strain of the virus could be more deadly, hinting that restrictions at UK borders could be tightened to help stop the spread.