UK hits 40 million people vaccinated as Covid cases rise

5 June 2021, 18:59 | Updated: 5 June 2021, 19:00

Over 40 million people in the UK have now received at least one Covid-19 vaccine dose
Over 40 million people in the UK have now received at least one Covid-19 vaccine dose. Picture: PA

By Kate Buck

Over 40 million people in the UK have now received at least one Covid-19 vaccine dose as cases of the virus continue to rise.

The vaccination programme hit two major milestones on Saturday - more than 40 million people have had at least one jab and 27 million have received both doses.

67,284,864 doses have now been given in total.

Read more: Second Covid-19 jabs ‘to be sped up for over 40s’

In a statement, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: "It is an astonishing achievement to deliver over 40 million first doses in under six months. In all corners of the UK, people are rolling up their sleeves when their time comes to protect themselves and the people around them.

"It seems with every day we pass another major vaccination milestone on the road back to recovery. Over three quarters of adults have received a first dose and over half of adults have now been vaccinated with the life-saving second dose.

"I pay tribute to the tireless work of the NHS, volunteers and armed forces in building this momentum - but our work is not yet done. I encourage everyone who is eligible to join the millions who have the fullest possible protection from this virus by getting their jab when the time comes."

But as vaccinations given continue to rise, so do the cases being reported each day.

5,765 fresh Covid-19 cases were reported on Saturday - down from 6,238 on Friday but significantly more than the 3,398 reported last Saturday.

The news also comes as it emerged people over the age of 40 are set to be offered their second Covid-19 jab after eight weeks instead of 12 to help keep the country on the roadmap out of lockdown.

Over 25s are also reportedly to be offered their first jab from next week as the government takes steps to slow the spread of Covid-19 variants. It comes after the UK regulator approved use of the Pfizer vaccine in children between the ages of 12 to 15-years-old.

The latest figures suggest coronavirus cases have risen more than 76 percent across England in a week.

But evidence that vaccines work is mounting, with Public Health England data showing vaccines protect against even the new variant after two doses.

Figures show vaccines cut the risk of catching the virus and being admitted to hospital by up to 93 per cent.

Figures released last night showed that just seven out of 9,427 people to have been infected with the new strain by the end of May needed hospital treatment after two doses.

Professor Adam Finn, a member of Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation, says Boris Johnson faces a tough decision. He said: "The trends that we are seeing this week about this new variant are all disencouraging.

"They are early trends, they may not continue and things might come right, but what we're seeing is a virus that's more infectious, spreading around the country...causing more hospitalisations, and the vaccines, while they protect against it, do it slightly less well."