More than 70m doses of Covid-19 vaccines have now been administered across the UK, as MPs and business leaders hit back at a potential delay to lockdown easing.
The latest figures mean more than three-quarters (78 per cent) of people have now been vaccinated with a first dose, while over 55 per cent have had both doses.
The UK remains on track to offer a first dose to all adults by the end of July. NHS England this week extended invitations to everyone aged 25 and older.
A recent study by Public Health England (PHE) shows that two doses of the Covid-19 vaccines are highly effective against the new, more infectious Delta variant.
However, it emerged today that the government is considering a delay to the next easing of lockdown restrictions to give people more time to get vaccinated against the virus.
The final lifting of measures, originally planned for 21 June, could reportedly be pushed back by up to four weeks.
The British Medical Association today called for the date of the so-called freedom day to be pushed back due to concerns about “rapidly rising” cases.
But politicians and business leaders have hit back at warnings of a delay to the reopening, with many citing the UK’s rapid vaccination rollout.
Former prime minister Theresa May slammed the government over its approach to international travel and called for ministers to tell the public “we will not eradicate” Covid from the UK completely.
Speaking in the Commons yesterday, May said it was “incomprehensible” that despite the high vaccination rates the UK was the “most reluctant to give its citizens the freedoms those vaccinations should support”.
Pub bosses have warned that sector confidence will be sapped further if the government delays the current road map out of lockdown restrictions and there is “no reason” for such delays.
The government has already moved forward appointments for second doses from 12 weeks to eight weeks in a bid to offer greater protection.
The public is being urged to come forward for their first and second jabs when eligible.
“Our Covid-19 vaccination programme continues at an unparalleled pace and we are almost at the final lap of the race to offer a dose to all adults by the end of July,” said health secretary Matt Hancock.
“The number of appointments booked over the past few days just goes to show how enthusiastic we are as a nation towards getting the vaccine – I urge all who are eligible to get their jab at the earliest possible opportunity.”