More than 10 million people in the UK have now received their first dose of a vaccine against Coronavirus, it has been announced.
In a tweet announcing the news, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said “this is a hugely significant milestone in our national effort against the virus”, adding, “Every jab makes us all a bit safer – I want to thank everyone playing their part”.
The UK’s Coronavirus vaccination rollout began in December, with the first dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine given at 06:31 on 8 December 2020. Since then, the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine has also been approved and rolled out in the UK, while the Moderna vaccine has been approved and is expected to begin to be rolled out in the UK in the coming months.
Vaccines are widely seen as the way out of lockdown and towards pre-pandemic normality. The UK Government is aiming to offer a first vaccine dose to 15 million of the most vulnerable people identified by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) by 15 February. This includes the following groups of people;
- all residents in a care home and older adults and their carers
- all those aged 80 and over and frontline health and social care workers
- all those aged 75 or over
- all those aged 70 or over and clinically extremely vulnerable individuals under 70 years of age
The UK Government is then aiming to offer a first vaccine dose to all those aged 50 and over, and all those under the age of 65 who are considered at risk, by the Spring.
According to the latest data, around half a million people have had a second dose of a COVID-19 vaccine in the UK.
The news of the 10 million first doses milestone being passed comes as the director of the Oxford vaccine group Professor Andrew Pollard has said that vaccines specifically designed to tackle new variants of Coronavirus should be ready to be rolled out by October.
The current vaccines are understood to still provide efficacy against the new virus variants, though this efficacy may be reduced.
The Government has taken some efforts to reduce the importation of new virus variants into the country, including through tighter controls at borders recently – however, Labour is calling for further action, including a stronger mandatory quarantine policy.