More than three quarters of adults in the UK have received their first vaccine dose, official statistics show.
Boris Johnson praised the country’s ‘huge national achievement’ in ensuring more than 39.7million over-18s are fully protected against the virus.
The Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: ‘Our incredible vaccine rollout has now provided vital protection against the virus to three quarters of all UK adults.
‘This is a huge national achievement, which we should all be proud of.
‘It’s so important that those who haven’t been vaccinated come forward as soon as possible to book their jab — to protect themselves, protect their loved ones and allow us all to enjoy our freedoms safely.’
It comes after an expert advising the Government today told MPs herd immunity is ‘mythical’ despite so many jabs being dished out.
Professor Sir Andrew Pollard, chair of the Joint Committee for Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), told the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Coronavirus that it is not possible for vaccines to provide enough immunity to stop the spread of the virus among people who have yet to have a jab.
He emphasised the roll of vaccines is to minimise severe disease and death from the virus and people who have not had a dose need to get inoculated in order to be protected.
Health and Social Care Secretary Sajid Javid (pictured today, left, with NHS chief executive Amanda Pritchard at Milton Keynes University Hospital) praised the NHS for reaching the 75 per cent milestone for double doses and encouraged more people to come forward for a jab
Data from Public Health England (PHE) shows Pfizer’s vaccine is 96 per cent effective at reducing hospitalisations while AstraZeneca’s is 92 per cent effective.
Figures from PHE and Cambridge University shows that around 60,000 deaths, 22million infections and 66,900 hospitalisations have been prevented by vaccines.
COVID MUTATIONS THAT ARE VACCINE-RESISTANT ARE ‘INEVITABLE’, EXPERT WARNS
Covid variants that can escape the protection given by vaccines are an ‘absolute inevitability’, infectious disease expert Professor Paul Hunter has said.
He was speaking today to the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Coronavirus, which was hearing evidence on vaccinating children, booster jabs and access to jabs.
Professor Paul Hunter, from the University of East Anglia, told the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Coronavirus: ‘It is absolutely inevitable that we are going to get escape variants coming in.’
Mutations deemed variants of concern in the UK include the Kent ‘Alpha’ variant, the South African ‘Beta’ mutation, the Indian ‘Delta’ strain and the Brazil ‘Gamma’ variant.
Vaccines are thought to be less effective against Beta and Delta.
Professor Hunter said the seasonal coronaviruses in circulation will infect people ‘repeatedly’ throughout their lives, typically on average every four or five years.
He said: ‘Quarter of the UK population will get infected on average every year, what that means is about 45,000 people will be infected every day with theses other coronaviruses.
‘Ultimately what happened with these other coronaviruses is that although you get a gradual escape, because we are getting re-infected so frequently, we actually keep up.’
Prof Devi Sridhar, chair in global public health at the University of Edinburgh, added: ‘We have already seen Alpha, Beta, Delta, it is inevitable.’
She added that vaccines had ‘transformed’ the pandemic but ‘not solved it’.
Health and Social Care Secretary Sajid Javid praised the NHS for reaching the 75 per cent milestone for double doses and encouraged more people to come forward for a jab.
He said: ‘Three in four adults across the UK have now had both doses of the vaccine, which is incredible and a testament to the fantastic work of the NHS, volunteers and everyone involved in the rollout.
‘Getting two doses of a Covid vaccine is the key to enjoying a host of new freedoms safely – whether that be to enjoy a trip abroad with family or a night out with friends – as we continue to build our wall of protection.
‘The vaccines are allowing us to reconnect with the things we love, but more than that, they’re protecting the people we love too.
‘Please make sure to come forward for your jab if you haven’t already as soon as possible.’
All adults in the UK are able to get their second doses after eight weeks. This will mean every adult has the chance to have two doses by mid-September.
People will be required to prove they’ve had two jabs to enter nightclubs and other venues where large crowds gather by the end of September.
From August 16, double vaccinated people will also no longer be required to self-isolate if they are identified as a close contact of a positive Covid case.
People will continue to be advised to take a PCR test and anyone who tests positive will still be legally required to self-isolate, irrespective of their vaccination status.
And speaking to MPs this morning, Professor Pollard warned vaccines alone could not ensure herd immunity.
He said: ‘What we know very clearly with the coronavirus that this current variant, the Delta variant, will still infect people who have been vaccinated and that means that anyone who is unvaccinated will meet the virus.
‘It might not be this week, this month or this year but they will meet the virus.
‘I think we are in a situation here with this current variant where herd immunity is not a possiblity because it still infects vaccinated individuals.’
Chair of the APPG on Coronavirus Layla Moran MP said: ‘The worrying evidence we heard today suggests that given the emergence of new variants, including vaccine-resistant ones, achieving herd immunity is just a pipe dream.
‘The government’s plan to learn to live with Covid cannot become a byword for abdicating responsibility to the most vulnerable.
‘Ministers must re-evaluate their approach and come up with a new and comprehensive, long-term plan to mitigate the risks posed by Covid and new variants.
‘That must include showing moral leadership and stepping up efforts to vaccinate the world.’