Over 20 million people given Covid vaccine in 'magnificent achievement' for the UK

28 February 2021, 14:19 | Updated: 28 February 2021, 16:41

Over 20 million people have now received their Covid vaccine, just 82 days after Henry Vokes was given one of the first doses in Bristol.
Over 20 million people have now received their Covid vaccine, just 82 days after Henry Vokes was given one of the first doses in Bristol. Picture: PA

By Joe Cook

Over 20 million people in the UK have received their first dose of a Covid-19 vaccine, in a milestone Health Secretary Matt Hancock has described as a "magnificent achievement for the country".

"I'm absolutely delighted that over 20 million people have now been vaccinated across the UK," a smiling Mr Hancock said, in a video posted online.

"It is absolutely fantastic. A huge thanks to the team, but in particular I want to thank every single person who has come forward to get the jab, because we know with increasing confidence that the jab protects you, it protects your community, and it also is the route out of this for all of us.

"So a great, great well done to the team. Thanks to everybody for coming forward. There is a long way still to go, but we are making big strides."

The health secretary also revealed that "well over a third of all adults have now received their first dose of a Covid vaccine in every corner of the UK".

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On Saturday, 407,503 additional vaccine first doses were registered across the UK, bringing the total number of first doses to 20,089,551. A further 27,322 second doses were also registered

The 20 million milestone comes just 82 days after the first dose of the Covid vaccine - outside of a trial - was given to 91-year-old Margaret Keenan on 8 December.

"BINGO!", Vaccine Minister Nadhim Zahawi tweeted after the 20 million announcement, adding: "What an achievement for February 2021. What a team! Proud to be with you on this journey."

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In a statement he continued: “Today’s incredible milestone is only possible thanks to the brilliant efforts of GPs, community pharmacists, frontline NHS workers and volunteers who have been doing everything they can to vaccinate those most at risk as quickly as possible.

“Thank you also to the government’s Vaccines Taskforce, which pulled out all the stops to purchase the most promising vaccines in advance on behalf of the entire UK, Crown Dependencies and Overseas Territories to give us the best possible start."

Describing the number of vaccinations as "a huge national achievement", Prime Minister Boris Johnson also urged everyone to get a jab when called.

Read more: JCVI member: EU made 'grave mistake' in delaying AstraZeneca approval

It was only two weeks ago that the UK hit its target of giving 15 million people their first dose of the vaccine. That group included all those in the top four priority groups, who are most vulnerable to severe disease from Covid.

From Monday, nearly two million people aged 60 to 63 in England will be invited to book a jab as part of the continued expansion of the vaccine programme.

NHS England said the latest batch of invites arriving this week will mean everyone in the first seven priority groups will have been offered a jab, with people aged between 50 and 60 set to be invited shortly.

Sir Simon Stevens, chief executive of NHS England, said: "Since around four fifths of 65-69 year olds have now been vaccinated, we're rapidly working our way down the generations, with people ages 60 plus now able to come forward.

"As expected vaccine supply increases in March, we're planning for further acceleration as we head towards Easter."

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The UK government aims to offer a vaccine to all adults by 31 July, although at the current rate some calculations suggest this could be hit weeks early.

This week a new study from Oxford University found over three quarters of people in the UK are now “very likely” to take the Covid vaccine.

The survey of over 1200 Brits, found the proportion saying they would be “very likely” to take the vaccine has increased from 50 percent to over three quarters, between October and February.

In more positive news, a member of the Joint Committee for Vaccination and Immunisation has told LBC's Swarbrick on Sunday experts expect to receive “very strong evidence” that the Covid vaccines reduce transmission rates of the virus in the coming weeks.

Read more: Vaccine support surges ‘massively,' but Brexit voters less likely to take it - study shows

Professor Robert Read added that he also recognised reports in the papers that just one shot of either the Pfizer or AstraZeneca vaccine reduces the chance of hospitalisation by 90%.

“It is early days”, he told Tom Swarbrick, but added: “A series of converging datasets essentially are all showing roughly the same thing.”

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