The UK has announced that it has given more than 20 million people at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine.

UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock made the announcement in a video on Twitter, saying: “I’m absolutely delighted that over 20 million people have now been vaccinated.”

In mid-February, the UK met a government target of 15 million of the most vulnerable people receiving first doses.

The government said it plans to offer a first jab to the whole adult population by the end of July.

Only Israel and the United Arab Emirates have vaccinated more people per head of population.

Mr Hancock said “I want to thank every single person who has come forward to get the jab,” calling this “the route out of this for all of us.”

“There’s a long way to go but we’re making big strides,” he said.

The UK’s vaccination programme has rolled out fast since its start in early December, when it became the first country in the world to begin mass inoculation with a fully trialled vaccine.

Earlier failures in contact tracing and controlling the spread of infection saw cases soar in the UK and the country’s death toll of 122,705 is the highest in Europe.

The country is still under national lockdown but daily cases, hospitalisations and deaths have all fallen dramatically since late January, despite the emergence of a more infectious variant.

On Thursday, Britain lowered the country’s virus alert level down one notch from the highest possible, saying the fall in cases had reduced the threat to the state-run National Health Service.

Meanwhile, Public Health England has identified the first UK cases of a variant first seen in Manaus, a new strain that may spread more rapidly and may respond less well to existing vaccines.

Up to six cases of the concerning variant first detected in the Brazilian city have been identified in Britain, three in England and three in Scotland, it has emerged.

The first two cases of the P.1 strain are from one household in South Gloucestershire with a history of travel to Brazil but the third is not linked.

The whereabouts of that individual is unknown, as PHE said the person did not complete their test registration card so follow-up details are unavailable.

Dr Susan Hopkins, PHE’s strategic response director for Covid-19, said: “We have identified these cases thanks to the UK’s advanced sequencing capabilities which means we are finding more variants and mutations than many other countries and are therefore able to take action quickly.

“The important thing to remember is that Covid-19, no matter what variant it is, spreads in the same way. That means the measures to stop it spreading do not change.”

Categories:

Tags:

Comments are closed