Two-thirds of adults in the UK are now fully vaccinated against Covid-19, health secretary Sajid Javid has announced.
“Two thirds of adults across the UK have now had two jabs. We have beaten our target by almost a week – this is a huge achievement,” Javid said in a tweet.
“Thank you to everyone who has come forward. The vaccine is our wall of defence against the virus.”
More than 81m vaccine doses have been given to adults in the UK, with 46m (87 per cent) having received a first dose and 35m (67 per cent) now fully vaxxed.
The UK recorded this figure at a significant time, after the government confirmed earlier in the week that all coronavirus restrictions will be dropped as of next Monday.
After an initial planned date of 21 June, the so-called “Freedom Day” was pushed back four weeks to 19 July by the government, in order to fully vaccinate two-thirds of adults in the UK.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson also took to twitter to mark the milestone, and said: “Barely 8 months since the first vaccine, 2/3 of UK adults have had both doses.”
“Thank you to everyone coming forward and to those helping others get jabbed. You are the reason we are able to cautiously ease restrictions next week.”
Javid warned that Covid case numbers will “get a lot worse before they get better” as he confirmed that England will go ahead with the easing of restrictions on Monday.
When speaking about critics of the wholesale shedding of restrictions, he said: “If not now, when? There will never be a perfect time to take this step, because we simply cannot eradicate this virus. Like it or not, coronavirus is not going away.”
But the government has been criticised by businesses for its lack of clarity as most measures shift from mandatory to at individual discretion.
Earlier today, transport secretary Grant Shapps said he backed London mayor Sadiq Khan’s decisive announcement that face masks will remain compulsory on London Tube and bus services despite the wider easing of lockdown measures.
Khan’s decision comes after he clashed with Prime Minister Boris Johnson over the scrapping of face mask rules.
“I’ve repeatedly made clear that the simplest and safest option would have been for the government to retain the national requirement for face coverings on public transport,” he said.
“I’m not prepared to stand by and put Londoners, and our city’s recovery, at risk. This is why, after careful consideration, I have decided to ask TfL to retain the requirement for passengers to wear a face covering on all TfL services when the national regulations change.”