COVID-19: Almost 5.4 million people given first vaccine dose as UK reports another 1,401 deaths

January 21, 2021

More than 5,000,000 people in the UK have now received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, according to latest government figures.

It means that 10.2% of people over 18 in the UK have had their first dose against coronavirus.

A total of 5,383,103 have had the first vaccine, with another 466,796 people so far also receiving their second inoculation against the virus.

It comes after the UK reported another 1,401 coronavirus deaths and an additional 40,261 infections on Friday. The total number of deaths in the UK is now 95,981.

The R number - the average number of secondary infections produced by a single infected person - currently stands at between 0.8 and 1, with a daily infection growth rate range of -4% to -1%, the figures show.

Earlier this week, the health secretary said the NHS is vaccinating people against coronavirus at the rate of 200 jabs every minute.

However, Matt Hancock warned: "In the meantime, everyone must follow the rules to protect the NHS and save lives, and we can do that safe in the knowledge that the tide will turn and that, with science, we will prevail."

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Mr Hancock told MPs that 63% of care home residents have now been inoculated, and said early indications are that COVID-19 vaccines can deal with some of the newer variants of the virus.

Meanwhile, Professor Anthony Harnden, deputy chairman of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), has insisted the government is "on track" to hit its goal of reaching 15 million people with vaccines by mid-February.

He said the daily figures on the numbers vaccinated - which showed a dip earlier this week - "are often unrepresentative of the overall trend".

Speaking to ITV's Good Morning Britain, he added: "We often get vaccine supplies, for instance, in our own practice midweek and immunise at the end of the week, so I think it's much better to look at a weekly trend, rather than the daily figure."

He said the UK is in a "dire situation" at the moment and insisted that delaying the second dose of vaccines by up to 12 weeks is the right thing to do.

The history of using other vaccines has shown that "one dose often offers really good protection", he said.

He added: "For instance, the HPV vaccine, initially was licensed for three doses; we're now thinking about giving it as one dose.

"And there are lots of examples of this, it is biologically completely implausible that the protection (from one dose) will suddenly drop off after three weeks.

"And so, from a public health perspective, an emergency perspective, this is the right thing to do."

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It comes after the percentage of people testing positive for COVID-19 in England has decreased slightly, according to ONS figures.

About one in 55 people who were not in care homes, hospitals or other institutional settings had the virus in the week ending 16 January.

In the last full infection survey published two weeks ago, one in 50 people had the virus.

Analysis: Vaccine numbers are good but we should not be too confident yet

By Rowland Manthorpe, technology correspondent

Yesterday was another good day for the UK's vaccine programme.

Not only did it hit a new high for the second day in a row, it once again surpassed the daily rate required to reach the government's target of vaccinating 15 million people by the middle of February.

If the number of daily vaccinations continues at this rate - or, even better, continues to increase - the government will hit its target and (more importantly) many of the most vulnerable people will have the protection of their first dose of the vaccine.

Yet before we feel too confident, we should remember that there was a significant dip in vaccinations last weekend.

We've seen how test numbers fall over every Saturday and Sunday: if the same thing happens this weekend then this could pose a problem for the system.

More worryingly, there is strong evidence that supply is more constrained than we expected. Last week, I published an optimistic analysis based on projections accidentally published by the Scottish government.

The government offers no transparency on questions of supply, so it is hard to be sure what's going on, but I can see no sign that the UK is getting the numbers of doses predicted in that document.

Still, as ever in this pandemic, things could always be worse. Yesterday there was a fire at the Serum Institute in Pune, India. Five were killed. But the production of the world's supply of Oxford-AstraZeneca was saved.

A reminder, if you needed it, that the fate of many is hanging by a thread.

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