L

ondon has broken through the five million Covid-19 vaccines mark as hopes grow for a return to far greater normality this summer.

Health chiefs hailed the “important milestone”, which was understood to have been reached on Thursday night. The figure had risen to 4,968,044 on Wednesday, with 3,553,566 Londoners having received a first dose and 1,414,478 a second as well.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock told the Standard: “Thank you to all the Londoners who have come forward for their vaccine. I had my first jab yesterday and I urge everybody to get your vaccine as soon as you are eligible, so we can beat this pandemic together.

“There is overwhelming evidence that Covid-19 vaccines protect you from serious illness and there’s growing data that they also prevent transmission, meaning a jab may stop you from unknowingly infecting a loved one, or someone who is vulnerable.”

Martin Machray, joint chief nurse for the NHS in London, added: “Thanks to the efforts of NHS staff and partners, the biggest vaccination programme in NHS history has now delivered over five million doses of the life-saving Covid vaccine to Londoners, marking another important milestone in protection given against the virus.

Jeremy Selwyn

Health chiefs in London are particularly seeking to encourage more people aged 80 and over, health and social care workers and individuals in black and ethnic minority communities to get the jab.

They are also working on how to motivate the 18-to-24 age group, where vaccine hesitancy is expected to be more challenging.

Professor Kevin Fenton, London director for Public Health England, said: “We need everyone to come forward if we are to see the back of this pandemic. So if the vaccine has been offered and you have not yet taken it up, please do so and encourage your friends and family to do the same.”

Covid-19 cases have plateaued in London, according to official figures, with the seven-day rate per 100,000 people at around 25 confirmed new infections.

Nearly 150,000 people took PCR tests as part of surge testing for the South African variant in Lambeth, Wandsworth and Southwark in recent weeks. Ruth Hutt, Lambeth’s director of public health, has said “preliminary findings indicate no spread of the variant locally”.

Out of 70,000 tests registered by people aged over 11 in the borough since April 12, just 0.2 per cent had positive results for the disease.

Welcoming the success of the vaccine roll-out, Mayor Sadiq Khan said: “It’s a fantastic milestone that so many Londoners have now had their first dose of the Covid-19 vaccines.”

Tory mayoral candidate Shaun Bailey said: “The vaccine roll-out has been a fantastic success. The jab is safe, effective and the quickest way to reopen our city, kickstart our economy and give London a fresh start.”

Vaccination hubs have been set up this week at Westfield in Stratford, after the closure of the ExCeL hub and at Saracens rugby club’s StoneX stadium in Hendon.

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