Boris Johnson Confirms 1.3 Million People Have Received Coronavirus Vaccine In The UK
| Last updated
However, he also announced that data from the Office for National Statistics estimates that as many as one in every 50 people in England could currently have coronavirus.
Johnson said that his government would be using 'every second' of the lockdown to create an 'invisible shield' around the elderly and vulnerable in society through the vaccination programme, and promised to have everyone in the highest risk categories offered a vaccine by 15 February.
Those top groups include care home residents and staff, everyone over 70, all frontline NHS and care staff, and the clinically extremely vulnerable.
The UK's vaccination programme began on 8 December last year after Britain was the first country in the world to give approval to the Pfizer/BioNTech inoculation.
The Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine has also been available for use since yesterday (4 January), following approval granted on Wednesday 30 December.
The use of two vaccines is important for the rollout and upscaling of the NHS vaccination programme because the Oxford vaccine can be stored in a conventional refrigerator, whereas the Pfizer vaccine must be kept in special freezers and at -70C.
Johnson spoke at a special coronavirus briefing today at Downing Street alongside Professor Chris Whitty and Sir Patrick Vallance in order to update the nation on the state of affairs as the country begins a third national lockdown.
Providing some good news, he said: "I can tell you that this afternoon - with Pfizer and Oxford/AstraZeneca combined - as of this afternoon, we have now vaccinated over 1.1 million people in England and over 1.3 million across the UK.
"That includes more than 650,000 people over 80, which is 23 percent of all the over 80s in England, and that means that nearly 1 in 4 of one of the most vulnerable groups will have in 2 to 3 weeks - all of them - a significant degree of immunity.
"When you consider that the average age of Covid fatalities is in the 80s, you can see the importance of what we have already achieved.
"That is why I believe that the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation was right to draw up a programme aimed at saving the most lives the fastest."
He concluded: "We know that there will still be long weeks ahead in which we must persevere with these restrictions.
"But, I want to give you - the British people - the maximum possible transparency about this vaccine roll out with more detail on Thursday and daily updates from Monday so that you can see day by day, and jab by jab, how much progress we are making."