More than half of the UK’s total population has received a first dose of a coronavirus vaccine, figures show.
NHS England data up to April 23 shows that of the 38,189,536 total doses given in England so far, 28,102,852 were first doses – a rise of 107,656 on the previous day.
It means the UK first dose total so far is now 33,496,293, with more recent figures still to be reported by Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.
The UK population is estimated to be 66,796,807, so the latest figures show that more than half the population have now had a first dose of a coronavirus vaccine.
Experts have said vaccines should be able to control the Covid-19 pandemic as they published new real-world UK data showing that jabs slash infection and are likely to cut transmission.
The good news comes a day after Number 10 scientists predicted that, thanks to the vaccine rollout and warmer weather, which helps to keep case numbers down, life will have returned ‘much more towards normal’ by the summer.
Falling infections, hospital admissions and deaths are tumbling just as scientists hoped they would when the lockdown began.
They are expected to drop even further in May and there are no signs that lockdown will have to be extended – social distancing laws are expected to expire on June 21.
On Friday, the UK confirmed another 2,678 positive cases – up 3 per cent on last Friday – and 40 deaths, which was an 18 per cent increase on the 34 victims last week.
Even though there was a slight increase in deaths and cases week-on-week, they are still continuing to trend downwards, aided by the vaccine programme that gave another 431,000 second doses and 131,000 first jabs.
Meanwhile, an Office for National Statistics report said on Thursday that only one in 610 people in England had the virus last week despite shops, beer gardens and hairdressers reopening.
And SAGE estimates the R rate is still below one across England, despite a small rise in the latest data to 0.8 – 1.0.
More than half of the UK’s total population has received a first dose of a coronavirus vaccine, figures show. NHS England data up to April 23 shows that of the 38,189,536 total doses given in England so far, 28,102,852 were first doses – a rise of 107,656 on the previous day
It means the UK first dose total so far is now 33,496,293, with more recent figures still to be reported by Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland
Just one dose of either the Pfizer/BioNTech or Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine leads to a two-thirds drop in coronavirus cases and is 74 per cent effective against symptomatic infection.
After two doses of Pfizer, there was a 70 per cent reduction in all cases and a 90 per cent drop in symptomatic cases – these are the people who are most likely to transmit coronavirus to others.
Booster jabs to battle new coronavirus strains will be ready by September but the current vaccines will provide some protection, Oxford expert says
Britain is winning its war against Covid and the success of the vaccination campaign would have been ‘unthinkable’ a year ago, the Oxford vaccine chief said yesterday.
Professor Andrew Pollard predicted jabs to tackle new variants of the virus could be ready as early as September.
But even the existing vaccines would provide some protection against these strains, he said, emphasising that the pandemic simply would not be as ‘hot’ compared with the past few months.
In an interview marking the one-year anniversary of the first person in Europe being given a Covid jab as part of the Oxford trial, he said vaccines were ‘the way out’ of never-ending lockdowns.
Professor Pollard, director of the Oxford Vaccine Group and chief investigator of the Oxford vaccine trial, also paid tribute to the public for the massive take-up of the jabs.
‘In the UK we’re in a very good place,’ he said. ‘Over 90 per cent of all those offered have taken up the vaccine. That’s astonishing. No one would have predicted that.’
He added: ‘The last Public Health England data shows more than 10,000 deaths have been prevented and that’s just 30million doses which have been administered in the UK.
‘When you magnify that up to this global rollout of vaccines, the numbers of lives saved is astonishing.’
A year ago it was ‘unthinkable that we would be here’.
Experts are still collecting data on two doses of AstraZeneca but say their findings show that both vaccines work and are effective in the real world.
One of the new studies, which has yet to be peer-reviewed, is based on data from the national Covid-19 Infection Survey run by the University of Oxford and the Office for National Statistics (ONS).
It included a random sample of more than 373,000 adults from across the UK, who produced more than 1.6 million swab test results between December and April.
Professor Sarah Walker, from the University of Oxford and chief investigator for the survey, said the study suggested vaccines could reduce transmission and were also effective against the Kent variant of coronavirus.
Speaking of the relaxation in restriction, Oxford biologist Professor James Naismith said ‘the re-opening we have seen this far has not triggered a resurgence.’
Professor Naismith, a structural biologist and director of Oxford University’s Rosalind Franklin Institute, said the figures in the new ONS report were ‘very encouraging’.
‘The prevalence of the virus has continued to drop, albeit slowly in all UK nations and essentially all regions.
‘It is safe to conclude that the re-opening we have seen this far has not triggered a resurgence.
‘The vaccine campaign has clearly had its desired effect, with infection rates lowest in the over-50s.
‘The decrease in prevalence in children is good news, the less virus in the UK the less chance for variants.’
The scientist added that there was a risk from new variants that can make vaccines less effective, but said the UK was in a good place to stop these before they become widespread.
‘There remains a risk from new variants, but the UK’s expertise in sequencing is world leading so we can be confident we will know in good time if this poses a threat.
‘We can all do our bit to stop the virus and its variants: Mask indoors, use the outdoors in warmer weather, wash our hands, isolate if sick and enrol in the at home testing scheme.’
Professor Naismith added that he backed the Government’s roadmap out of lockdown.
The ONS calculated 90,000 people had the virus in the week to April 16, down by a fifth from the 112,600 the previous week.
It marked the first time weekly infections have fallen below 100,000 since the week ending September 10, before the fast-spreading Kent variant emerged.
The ONS report found Covid cases dropped in Northern Ireland – where one in 660 have Covid – and Scotland – where it’s one in 560. But they rose slightly in Wales to one in 840, although this was still the lowest in the UK.
And the Government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) estimated England’s R rate has risen slightly from a range of 0.7 to 1.0 to between 0.8 and 1.0. But experts said when cases are so low even small clusters can push it up, with one SAGE member insisting that it was becoming ‘progressively unreliable’.
Due to the way estimates are made, the R rate is always three weeks behind. Officials say this means the most recent figure does not take into account last week’s unlocking of lockdown.
The ONS infection survey is seen as the gold-standard for tracking the outbreak by ministers, because it relies on random swabbing of more than 100,000 Britons.
This means it is able to pick up cases among people who are asymptomatic – which trigger no warning signs – thought to make up a third of all cases.
Over-70s had the fewest Covid cases in England, the ONS figures suggested, after they were all offered at least one dose of the vaccine.
Their positivity rate – the proportion of swabs that picked up the virus – was 0.06 per cent, meaning only one in every 1,700 test results would be positive.
Those aged 50 to 69 had the second lowest rate, at 0.12 per cent, after almost everyone in the group was also offered the jabs. Only Scotland is still mopping up over-50s.
Children aged 12 to 16 years had the highest Covid positivity rate, at 0.3 per cent, but this was still a drop from previous weeks.
Cases among this age group rose after schools were reopened to all age groups, but have since also started to drop after pupils were asked to self-test every week to root out cases of the virus.
Across England’s region, cases were estimated to have dropped in the North East, North West, Yorkshire and the Humber, East Midlands and London.
The South West still had the lowest infection rate at around one in 1,540 people carrying the virus.
And the North West had the highest proportion of people infected, at one in 370.
And Professor Karol Sikora, an expert in medicine at Buckingham University, told MailOnline the figures suggested the Prime Minister should bring forward his dates for relaxing restriction.
The next easing isn’t expected until May 17.
Professor Sikora, from the University of Buckingham, told MailOnline: ‘It’s just crazy. There’s no science behind any of it.’
He said hospital admissions were ‘the only statistic that mattered’ now that the vaccines have been rolled out to the vulnerable.
Professor Spector, an epidemiologist at King’s College London, told MailOnline: ‘Personally, I would like to see restrictions in care homes, where residents have been fully vaccinated, lifted as soon as possible to stop further suffering for those who haven’t been able to see their families for more than a year.
‘Also, the Government could be looking at easing restrictions in parts of the country that have low infection rates like the South West and South East, as in these places there is limited risk right now.’
The good vaccine news comes after the Oxford vaccine chief predicted on Thursday that jabs to tackle new Covid variants could be ready as early as September.
Professor Andrew Pollard said that even the existing vaccines would provide some protection against these strains and emphasised that the pandemic would not be as ‘hot’ compared to the previous peaks which Britain has endured.