NHS’s vaccination targets are on course as 491,970 people get the jab in one day

Almost half a million Britons have been vaccinated in a single day, official figures reveal, as the rollout continues to gather steam.

Department of Health data shows a record 493,013 jabs were administered on Saturday, marking the fifth day in a row that the operation has picked up the pace.

And three quarters of Britain’s over-80s have now received their first dose, according to the Health Secretary Matt Hancock, in another promising sign.

So far nearly 6.4million Britons have received their first dose of the vaccine. 

Ministers are aiming to vaccinate 15million of the most vulnerable by mid-February, a group that includes the over-70s, NHS frontline staff, care home residents and the vulnerable. To meet this target they will need to give out 400,000 jabs a day.

But in an encouraging sign this aim has been exceeded for three days in a row, showing Boris Johnson is on track to make good on his promise.

Supply of the vaccine, however, has been described as ‘lumpy’ and could yet threaten to derail the drive.

Ministers have refused to reveal how much is already in the country, citing a security risk, but there have been reports of deliveries to centres being scaled down.

Confusion has also been sparked over whether supplies are being diverted to areas lagging behind in the rollout, with the vaccines minister denying this after Mr Hancock said the Government would be redirecting stocks last week. 

Saturday alone saw 491,970 people get their first dose and 1,043 get their second, the highest daily figures recorded so far 

The NHS's ambitions vaccination targets are on track as a record-breaking 493,013 get their jabs in just one day. Pictured: Elizabeth Van Tam, 79, the mother of Jonathan Van-Tam, got her vaccine this week

The NHS's ambitions vaccination targets are on track as a record-breaking 493,013 get their jabs in just one day. Pictured: Elizabeth Van Tam, 79, the mother of Jonathan Van-Tam, got her vaccine this week

The NHS’s ambitions vaccination targets are on track as a record-breaking 493,013 get their jabs in just one day. Pictured: Elizabeth Van Tam, 79, the mother of Jonathan Van-Tam, got her vaccine this week

MIDLANDS BECOMES FIRST REGION IN ENGLAND TO GIVE A MILLION INITIAL COVID JABS 

The Midlands has become the first region in England to administer more than one million first doses of coronavirus vaccine, new figures from NHS England show.

The data also shows London still lags behind all other regions in terms of the total number of jabs given, having delivered around 641,000 since December 8.

The capital also delivered the lowest number of first doses in the last seven days.

Between January 17 and January 23, 219,350 first doses were administered in London compared to 362,976 in the Midlands.

It comes after Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said on January 18 it was ‘vital’ that vulnerable Londoners be given ‘life-saving’ vaccines as quickly as possible, and that he ‘fully expected’ numbers to increase.

The capital has a lower average age than the rest of the UK, according to data from Trust for London.

Around 3% of London’s population is over 80, compared with 6% in south-west England.

The NHS England data shows that a total of 5,970,175 vaccinations, including first and second doses, have been administered in England since December 8.

Regional breakdown shows the next highest number of jabs delivered after the Midlands was in the North East and Yorkshire, with 905,794 first doses and 71,725 second doses, making 977,519 in total.

This is followed by the South East, with 881,901 first doses and 76,288 second doses making 958,189 given in total, and the North West, where a total of 829,130 jabs have been administered, including 765,617 first doses and 63,513 second doses.

In the East of England, there have been 734,392 jabs in total, of which 680,812 were first doses and 53,580 second doses.

And in the South West, 632,406 first doses and 53,508 second doses – a total of 685,914 – have been given.

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It comes as:

  • Boris Johnson is set to give the death knell for summer holidays by rubber-stamping an Australia-style 10-day hotel quarantine for all UK arrivals;
  • Vaccine centre staff are reportedly offering leftover jabs to friends and family to stop them being wasted;
  • Pubs and restaurants could stay shut until July as councils are given powers to extend lockdown rules for months;
  • Tory MPs revolt over plans to keep children off school until after Easter as it’s warned lockdowns are creating a ‘lost generation’;
  • Nasal spray that ‘could stop you catching Covid for up to two days’ could be sold in high street pharmacies by the summer. 

Sounding a hopeful note on the Government’s rapidly accelerating vaccination drive, the former director of immunisation at the Department of Health David Salisbury said they looked to be on track to hit their target. 

 ‘With a fair wind and a supply of vaccine they ought to make the mid-February target,’ he told The Times.

‘If the Pfizer slowdown hits us, and Astrazeneca supplies take a hit — then that’s going to be tough.’ 

The EU has been told to expect fewer quantities of the Oxford jab than expected, reports claim, while Pfizer says changes to their Belgium factory may impact supplies.  

It also comes amid fears of a vaccine postcode lottery with the Midlands becoming the first region in England to administer more than one million first doses of coronavirus vaccine.

NHS data also shows London still lags behind all other regions in terms of the total number of jabs given, having delivered around 641,000 since December 8.

The capital also delivered the lowest number of first doses in the last seven days.

Between January 17 and January 23, 219,350 first doses were administered in London compared to 362,976 in the Midlands. 

But Mr Hancock was positive about Britain’s progress today – and even pointed out that more Britons had been given doses in the past three days than France had managed in total.

The bullish message came as Nicola Sturgeon was forced to admit that Scotland needs to ‘catch up’, after it emerged on Friday that the over-80s coverage there is more like a third so far.

But despite his optimism about the vaccines, Mr Hancock warned the Government is a ‘long, long, long way’ from being able to lift coronavirus lockdown restrictions because cases are still so high. 

The latest Government figures showed the number receiving the first dose of the vaccine across the UK has passed 5.8 million, with a record 478,248 getting the jab in a single day.

A further 32 vaccine sites are set to open across the country this week including one at the museum made famous as the set of hit TV series Peaky Blinders.

Matt Hancock (pictured) today revealed that three quarters of over-80s have received doses of the jab - with a total of 6.4 million Britons vaccinated since the roll out began

Matt Hancock (pictured) today revealed that three quarters of over-80s have received doses of the jab - with a total of 6.4 million Britons vaccinated since the roll out began

Matt Hancock (pictured) today revealed that three quarters of over-80s have received doses of the jab – with a total of 6.4 million Britons vaccinated since the roll out began

The venues include the Black Country Living Museum in Dudley, which featured in the long-running TV show, a racecourse, a football stadium and a former Ikea store.

By contrast France is only expecting to have vaccinated around 1.4million people by the end of this month.

Mr Hancock said: ‘As of this morning, three-quarters of all over-80s in the UK have been vaccinated. 

‘We’ve vaccinated more people in just the last three days than France has in the history of this disease.’ 

In contrast to the wider UK picture, as of Friday just 34 per cent of over-80s had been given doses in Scotland.  

Asked about the rollout on the BBC’s Andrew Marr show, Ms Sturgeon denied that the arrangements north of the border were more bureaucratic – but admitted Scotland was having to ‘catch up’ on vaccinating the over-80s.

‘Uncertain’ if mutant Covid more dangerous, admits Hancock as he warns lockdown won’t ease soon 

Matt Hancock today admitted there is ‘uncertainty’ over whether the Covid variant is more deadly as he warned that people should take precautions based on the risk.

In interviews this morning, the Health Secretary cited warnings from scientists that the mutant strain first detected in Kent could be between 10 and 50 per cent more lethal.

But after criticism that the government was scaring people before the picture was clear, he admitted there are ‘uncertainties’ – while insisting that is the ‘nature of science’.

He also fuelled rumours of Cabinet splits on how tough to make the UK’s border policy by saying ‘precautions’ against variants that have not yet been detected.

And he delivered a grim message to those hoping lockdown could any anytime soon, insisting case numbers are a ‘long, long, long way’ from being low enough.  

Speaking on Sky News’ Sophy Ridge programme, Mr Hancock said: ‘The scientists do think it may be more deadly. They have put various estimates..’ 

He said that ‘communicating risk is challenging’ as he defended Boris Johnson’s decision to reveal the news on lethality at a dramatic press conference on Friday night. 

‘There are uncertainties on that. That is the nature of science… the vast majority of the public understand that,’ Mr Hancock said. 

‘There is a risk the new variant is more deadly. We know it is more transmissible.’ 

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She said: ‘We took a deliberate decision in line with JCVI advice to focus initially on vaccinating older residents of care homes.’

She continued: ‘I heard Matt Hancock on the programme earlier say that about three quarters of care home residents in England had been vaccinated, in Scotland that figure right now is 95 per cent of care home residents.’

The First Minister said this approach was more ‘resource intensive’ and Scotland was now ‘rapidly catching up’ on vaccinating over-80s in the community.

She added: ‘We’re all working to the same targets, overall I think we will see that we all are making good progress through this vaccination programme.’

Ms Sturgeon said issues with supplies getting to GPs were ‘smoothing out and starting to be resolved’.

She said: ‘We have had the rate limitation of the number of packs coming into Scotland which has limited supply to GPs.

‘On this question of whether there is a more bureaucratic system in Scotland, I don’t think that’s the case.

‘Although we will always look to see what we can do to simplify that.’

Writing in The Sunday Telegraph, deputy chief medical officer Prof Jonathan Van-Tam said it was still not known if people who had received the jab could still pass on the virus to others, even though they were protected from falling ill themselves.

‘If you change your behaviour you could still be spreading the virus, keeping the number of cases high and putting others at risk who also need their vaccine but are further down the queue,’ he said.

Prof Van-Tam meanwhile has hit back at doctors who have criticised the decision to extend the gap between the first and second doses of the vaccine to 12 weeks.

The British Medical Association has written to the chief medical officer for England urging a rethink, saying that in the case of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine a maximum gap of six weeks had been mandated by the World Heath Organisation (WHO).

Prof Van-Tam said that extending the gap was the quickest way to get a first dose to as many people as possible, as quickly as possible.

He said: ‘But what none of these (who ask reasonable questions) will tell me is: who on the at-risk list should suffer slower access to their first dose so that someone else who’s already had one dose (and therefore most of the protection) can get a second?’

Mr Hancock hailed 'brilliant progress' on vaccinations today as he revealed three quarters of over-80s have now received doses

Mr Hancock hailed 'brilliant progress' on vaccinations today as he revealed three quarters of over-80s have now received doses

Mr Hancock hailed ‘brilliant progress’ on vaccinations today as he revealed three quarters of over-80s have now received doses

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