COVID-19: More than 5.6 million people in UK now fully vaccinated against coronavirus

More than 5.6 million people in the UK have now been fully vaccinated against coronavirus.

Government advisers have warned that the rollout will be "considerably slower" until the end of July due to supply problems and the focus for now is being placed on second jabs, rather than moving down the age groups.

Tuesday saw the lowest number of first doses given since early January (40,744), but it was up to 85,227 on Wednesday to take the total to 31,707,594, while second jabs went up by 186,793 to 5,683,509.

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The government said a further 45 people had died within 28 days of testing positive for COVID-19 as of Wednesday, bringing the UK total to 126,927.

It also said that there had been a further 2,763 lab-confirmed cases, bringing the total to 4,367,291.

The figures compare to 2,379 cases and 20 deaths on Tuesday, and 4,052 cases and 43 deaths last Wednesday.

Separate figures published by the UK’s statistics agencies show there have been 150,000 deaths registered in the UK where coronavirus was mentioned on the death certificate.

Meanwhile, government advisers have decided Britons aged 18-29 will be offered an alternative to the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine.

The decision follows 79 people developing blood clots after the jab.

But deputy chief medical officer for England Professor Jonathan Van-Tam said it would be "pretty absurd" to withhold the AstraZeneca vaccine from the over-40s.

He told a news briefing: "The idea of withholding a vaccine where a potential harm, for example in the 40-49 group, is 0.5 harms per 100,000 people versus 51.5 intensive care admissions averted, and that’s not taking into account hospitalisations, long COVID and spreading to others, then the notion that you would clip the vaccine at that point is pretty absurd really.

"So it is very much an independent decision but I think it has been taken in an extremely rational way."

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The government will hope the Moderna vaccine from the US can help keep the UK rollout going at a solid rate over the coming months.

Wednesday was its first day of use in the UK, beginning at a hospital in Wales.

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