A record number of coronavirus vaccines were administered in the UK on Saturday, with more than half a million people receiving their first dose in one day.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock revealed that four fifths of those aged over 80 had now received their first dose of the vaccine, alongside three quarters of those aged between 75 and 79.
It comes as politicians and celebrities sent their best wishes to Captain Sir Tom Moore, who is in hospital after testing positive for coronavirus, his family said.
Massive thank you to the whole team who delivered a record number of jabs yesterday. pic.twitter.com/7FEJrcWxpA— Matt Hancock (@MattHancock) January 31, 2021
Government figures show a record 598,389 first doses were administered in the UK on Saturday, bringing the total number of people to have received their first dose to 8,977,329.
In a video on Twitter, Mr Hancock said: “Yesterday, Saturday, 598,000 people received their coronavirus vaccine, and I’m just so grateful to everybody who is involved in making this happen.
“It means that three-quarters of those over the age of 75 but under 80 and four-fifths of those over 80 have now been jabbed.
“It’s a massive effort and I’m very, very grateful to everybody involved.”
The Government has set a target of getting the first dose to 15 million people in the top priority groups, including all over-70s, by February 15.
Based on the latest figures, an average of 401,512 first doses of vaccine would be needed each day for this target to be met.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson was among those to send his well wishes to 100-year-old charity fundraiser Capt Sir Tom, who was taken to Bedford Hospital on Sunday.
A statement posted on the veteran’s Twitter page said he has been receiving treatment for pneumonia and tested positive for the virus last week.
His family said: “He was at home with us until today when he needed additional help with his breathing. He is being treated in a ward although he is not in ICU.”
Mr Johnson tweeted that his thoughts were with Capt Sir Tom and his family, adding: “You’ve inspired the whole nation, and I know we are all wishing you a full recovery.”
The Government said a further 587 people had died within 28 days of testing positive for coronavirus as of Sunday, while there were a further 21,088 lab-confirmed cases recorded in the UK.
Earlier on Sunday, Mr Hancock said he hoped it would be a “happy and free Great British summer” but warned of a “tough few months” between now and then as the vaccine rollout continues.
“We have to follow the data, you have to see the impact of the vaccines on the ground,” he told BBC Politics East.
“It’s that difficult balance – we’ve got to move as fast as we can but in a way that keeps people safe.”
Meanwhile, a survey has suggested that hundreds of doctors from black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds (BAME) do not feel fully protected from the virus while at work.
Some 72% of BAME respondents said they felt only partly protected, or not protected at all from infection, compared with 60% for white respondents, according to the British Medical Association (BMA).
The results are from a survey of 7,776 doctors and medical students across England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Dr Chaand Nagpaul, chairman of the BMA Council, said: “We should not have a situation in this country where health and social care workers, BAME or otherwise, are feeling unsafe or at risk from death or disease in their workplace, especially in the NHS where that work is to save the lives of others.
“It is untenable that a year into his pandemic we are seeing results like this.”