COVID-19: First dose vaccination total nears 30m as UK records another 70 virus-related deaths

The number of people to have received a first vaccine dose is nearing 30 million, as the UK recorded another 70 COVID-related deaths.

The latest daily government figures show 324,942 people had a first jab on Thursday, bringing the total to 29,316,130. A further 234,382 received a second vaccine dose.

The number of people who died within 28 days of a positive coronavirus test is slightly up from the 63 reported yesterday.

Total deaths in the UK now stand at 126,515

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There were also another 6,187 new infections recorded, bringing the UK’s overall total to 4,325,315.

Some 4,852 people were in hospital with coronavirus on Wednesday – the latest date for which figures are available. That compares with more than 39,000 at the peak of the last wave in mid-January.

It comes as the country’s R number rose slightly from between an estimated 0.6 and 0.9 to between 0.7 and 0.9.

However, that still means the pandemic is shrinking as every 10 people who test positive with COVID-19 will pass it on to an average of seven to nine others.

Despite predictions that vaccinations will dip in April amid tensions with the EU over supplies, a government minister has said the coming months could see the rate of jabs increase.

Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick told Sky News he was "confident" of increasing the supply to allow the UK to "increase the pace" of its rollout programme.

Mr Jenrick stressed the government was "on course" to meet its target of offering a first dose to the top nine priority groups by 15 April and all UK adults by the end of July.

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