COVID-19: More than 70% of UK adults have now had a first coronavirus vaccine dose
More than 70% of UK adults have now had their first dose of COVID-19 vaccine, the government has announced.
Another 174,100 first coronavirus jabs were administered on Tuesday to take the total to 36,985,505 (70.2%), while 20,870,453 (39.6%) people are fully vaccinated after 324,001 more second shots.
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It comes after appointments for second doses were brought forward from 12 to eight weeks for those in the top nine priority groups yet to receive both jabs, and the introduction of surge vaccination in areas where the so-called Indian variant is most prevalent.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said that the UK had one of the highest uptake rates in the world, “with 90% of people saying that they have had or will have the jab”.
He added: “Strong evidence shows the vaccines protect you and your loved ones from serious illness and they also reduce transmission, which is why we’ve introduced additional surge measures in the areas with rising cases of the variant first identified in India.”
NHS England’s lead for the COVID vaccination programme, Dr Emily Lawson, said that more than a million appointments had been made in less than a week since the rollout was expanded to people in their 30s, with those aged 36 and 37 now eligible to book.
Meanwhile, the UK has reported another 2,696 infections and three coronavirus-related deaths in the latest 24-hour period.
There were seven deaths and 2,412 cases announced on Tuesday, while last Wednesday 11 deaths and 2,284 cases were reported.
It comes after the prime minister said there is “increasing confidence” that vaccines are effective against the Indian variant of coronavirus.
The emergence of the faster-spreading B1617.2 variant, first detected in India, had cast doubt on plans to ease the remaining social restrictions in England on 21 June.
But Boris Johnson said on Tuesday there is no conclusive evidence to suggest a deviation from the roadmap.
He told MPs: “We’ve looked at the data again this morning and I can tell the House we have increasing confidence that vaccines are effective against all variants, including the Indian variant.”
Mr Johnson thanked people in Bolton and Blackburn – Indian variant hotspots – for “coming forward in record numbers” to receive a jab.
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Sky analysis has found the Indian coronavirus variant of concern appears to be spreading rapidly, with a 44% weekly increase in the number of areas in England recording a case.
The emergence of the variant has not only cast doubt on next month’s step of the PM’s roadmap, but also raised questions as to whether step three should have gone ahead on Monday.
Despite his overall optimism, Mr Johnson has insisted that holidays to “amber list” countries like Spain and France remain off limits for now.
He said people should only travel to such nations “for some extreme circumstance, such as the serious illness of a family member”.
Mixed messages from the government has led to confusion over whether it is safe or appropriate for people to travel abroad to an amber list country for a holiday.
The PM’s comments came after EU ambassadors backed plans to allow vaccinated UK holidaymakers to visit the bloc this summer.
They recommended that rules should be changed to allow non-essential visits into the EU by people who have had the full course of doses. The policy will need to be formally signed off by ministers of member states.
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