More than 1m Londoners have received first dose of Covid vaccine
More than 1m people in London have received their first dose of the coronavirus vaccine, following concerns that the capital had been falling behind in the nation’s immunisation programme.
Official figures published last night showed 1,011,490 Londoners have received their first dose of either the Astrazeneca/Oxford University or Pfizer/Biontech vaccines, while a further 60,658 people have received a second dose of the jab.
The milestone comes just eight weeks after 90-year-old George Dyer became the first person in London to receive a Covid-19 vaccination at Croydon Hospital, and on the same day the UK passed the major landmark of administering 10m doses of the vaccine.
Ministers ramped up the vaccine rollout over the weekend, with a further 108,000 doses administered in the capital tipping London past official targets.
It places the NHS ahead of government targets to have offered a first dose to the four highest priority groups by 14 February, in a move that is expected to reduce deaths and illness caused by the coronavirus by 65 per cent.
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said: “It is truly fantastic news that more than one million doses of Covid-19 vaccine have been administered in London. This has been an incredibly difficult and challenging time for our city, but the vaccine is the light at the end of a dark tunnel.
“This major milestone is down to the heroic work and dedication of our NHS staff, volunteers and venues who have gone above and beyond to deliver these life-saving vaccinations.”
However, the milestone follows weeks of wrangling from Khan over concerns the capital was falling behind in the vaccine race.
The mayor wrote an urgent letter to vaccines tsar Nadhim Zahawi just two weeks ago calling on him to scale up vaccine supply to meet different population densities.
Khan said he was “hugely concerned” that Londoners have received only a tenth of the vaccines that have been given across the country, when the capital’s population makes up close to 14 per cent of the country.
“The situation in London is critical with rates of the virus extremely high, which is why it’s so important that vulnerable Londoners are given access to the vaccine as soon as possible,” he added.
London has received the second-lowest number of vaccine doses in England, after weeks of trailing at the bottom of the list. The capital is ahead of the South West of the country, and just behind the East of England, where the Kent Covid variant is most rampant.
The NHS opened four major new vaccination centres in London last month as part of plans to scale up the capital’s vaccine programme. The sites include a large-scale vaccination centre at the Francis Crick Institute in central London and pop-up sites at a former Ikea store in Westfield Stratford, the Hornsey Central Neighbourhood Health Centre in Crouch End and at the Hawks Road Health Clinic in Kingston.