1.6m COVID-19 jabs in two days as vaccine rollout hits new peak

Vaccination sites across the UK delivered almost 1.6m COVID-19 jabs in two days on 19 and 20 March to cap a record-breaking week for the vaccination programme.

COVID-19 vaccination sign near Westminster Abbey (Photo: Vuk Valcic/SOPA Images/LightRocket/Getty Images)
COVID-19 vaccination sign near Westminster Abbey (Photo: Vuk Valcic/SOPA Images/LightRocket/Getty Images)

Just over 27.6m people UK-wide - more than half the adult population - had received a first dose of COVID-19 vaccine by the end of Saturday 20 March. Nearly 2.3m of these people have also received a second dose.

Total doses delivered UK-wide reached new record levels on each of the last three days for which figures are available - hitting 660,276 on 18 March, 740,655 on 19 March and 844,285 on 20 March. The previous highest one-day total was on 30 January, when 609,010 doses were administered.

On Saturday 20 March a staggering 752,308 people received a first dose of vaccine, with a further 91,977 receiving second-dose jabs.

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Find out how the vaccination campaign is going: GPonline COVID-19 vaccination tracker

The sharp rise in vaccinations delivered across the UK over the past week had been expected to be the start of a surge in supply that would last several weeks - but NHS England revealed last week that supplies will now drop off from 29 March.

The surge in vaccinations delivered has also come despite reports of increased vaccine hesitancy and missed vaccine appointments in some areas following investigations into reports of blood clots and a pause in rollout of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine in some countries.

UK and EU regulators said on 18 March that the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine was not linked to blood clot risk, however, and jabs have resumed in countries that had paused rollout.

The surge in vaccinations over the past week in the UK has taken the seven-day average figure for total doses administered per day UK-wide to 582,660. Around one in six doses administered over the past week were second doses - a proportion set to rise over the coming weeks as supplies dip and millions of people are due second-dose jabs.

Second dose

Health and social care secretary Matt Hancock said last week that around 12m second doses due in April would not be delayed by the expected dip in supply - and that some first doses would be delivered in every week next month.

GP practices had until midnight on Friday 19 March to sign up to remain part of the vaccination programme in cohorts 10-12 - covering patients aged 18-49 years old.

NHS England said that GP-led sites run by practices in one Bristol PCN - PCN4 - delivered 1,909 doses of vaccine on 20 March alone.

NHS England primary care medical director Dr Nikki Kanani said: 'Thanks to the huge efforts of NHS staff, vaccinators, volunteers and everyone working tirelessly seven days a week on the vaccination programme, it continues to be a great success.

'These efforts have meant that the NHS had vaccinated half of all adults in England by Thursday and saw a sequence of record-breaking days topping off the most successful week in the programme so far.'

NHS England vaccine rollout lead Dr Emily Lawson said: 'It is remarkable that because of the sustained hard work of NHS staff and all those involved in delivering jabs up and down the country, the vaccination programme has once again topped its own success with its busiest week to date. I could not be more proud of all those involved who have helped us to achieve this latest milestone.'

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