Britain is on track to deliver ten million second doses of the vaccine by the end of the day, as the UK vaccine rollout continues at breakneck speed.
Ministers are confident they will reach the milestone in protecting the public from Covid, with the ten millionth second blow expected to go into someone’s arm today.
The speed of vaccine deployment in the UK contrasts with other European countries, many of which have yet to reach ten million first doses.
Spain delivered only nine million doses of the first vaccine, while Poland administered six million. Meanwhile, France administered 12 million first doses and Italy 10.3 million.
In the UK, 32.7 million people – nearly half of the total population – had received their first stroke on Friday night.
And at the same time, some 9,416,968 people across the UK had received their second dose, according to figures released last night.
That included 485,421 people who received their second dose on Friday – a daily record for the administration of the “ booster ” jab, which offers improved and prolonged protection.
This despite concerns of a slowdown in supply this month. Sources said that Nadhim Zahawi, the Minister of Vaccines, had reported that April was “the month for the second dose”.
A senior government source said the ten million mark would “very likely” be reached today. Insiders said they expected this to be achieved with around 500,000 people receiving their second hit yesterday and up to 300,000 more today. Saturday’s figures will be released this afternoon and Sunday tomorrow.
Meanwhile, the number of newly reported daily infections continued to decline over the past week – from 6.5% to 2,206, as did the number of daily hospitalizations, down 12.8%, and deaths. , down 29.1%.
Yesterday, it was also revealed that the number of people who have died worldwide with Covid has exceeded three million, according to Johns Hopkins University.
The speed of vaccine deployment in the UK contrasts with other European countries, many of which have yet to reach their first ten million doses.
Almost 140 million cases have been recorded worldwide since the start of the pandemic.
Last Friday, the British Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunization (JCVI) gave the green light for pregnant women to receive the Pfizer or Moderna Covid jabs, after 90,000 pregnant women received them in the United States without no security problem.
In addition to protecting the women themselves, the vaccines also induce protective antibodies which are transmitted to their offspring via the umbilical cord and in breast milk, according to US research.
However, a leading pollster warned last night that convincing pregnant women to be vaccinated with Covid could be “ a challenge ”.
Johnny Heald, of polling firm ORB International, who works with academics on the Vaccine Confidence Project, said: “Women are more risk averse than men – and pregnant women are especially risk averse. Getting vaccinated during pregnancy is a big step forward.
“I think it will take more targeted campaigns to convince pregnant women that it is safe.
“Our poll shows women between the ages of 25 and 45 are among the most hesitant demographic groups, in part because younger age groups are among the most likely to think Covid won’t impact their lives. health.”
The JCVI has not approved the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine for use in pregnant women because it has not been used on them in the United States and therefore there is no such safety data.
In the UK, 32.7 million people – almost half of the total population – had received their first stroke on Friday evening
The positive news is tempered by new concern over two variants of Covid, first identified in South Africa and India, against which vaccines may offer less protection.
So far, 600 cases of the South African variant have been officially confirmed in the UK and 77 of the Indian variant – although the latter may be at least double that figure.
Hundreds of thousands of people in four London boroughs – Lambeth, Wandsworth, Southwark and Barnet – have been asked to be tested for the variant after outbreaks.
Professor Paul Hunter, University of East Anglia, said: ‘I would expect that because the Indian variant has two escape mutations, the current vaccines will be less effective against it than the variant South African, although this has not been proven in the real world yet.
Studies seem to show that current vaccines are less effective in preventing infection resulting from the South African strain than the original or the Kent strain, in terms of mild to moderate symptoms.
But there is no clarity on whether vaccines are less effective in stopping serious illnesses caused by the South African strain.
Public Health England admitted last night it was unsure how many of the 600 people infected with the South African strain needed hospital treatment, but said it was ‘continuing to investigate’.