Half of all UK adults vaccinated
Britain said Saturday that half the country’s adults have received at least one dose of Covid vaccine as the government races to reach everyone over age 18 by the end of July, AP reports.
The National Health Service has put shots in the arms of 26.9 million people, or 51% of the adult population, according to the latest government statistics. The NHS passed the halfway point by delivering 589,689 first doses on Friday, the highest daily total since the mass vaccination program began in early December.
“It’s a huge success,” Health Secretary Matt Hancock said in a video celebrating the milestone. “And I want to say many, many thanks to all those involved, including the half of all adults who have come forward. It’s so important because this vaccine is our way out of this pandemic.’’
The announcement followed the news from health authorities earlier this week that Britain would see a “significant reduction” in vaccine supplies next month. The NHS will continue during April to deliver first doses to those most at risk from Covid, along with 12 million second jabs, Hancock said Saturday.
In an effort to vaccinate as many people as possible, the UK decided to stretch the time between first and second doses to 12 weeks instead of four weeks as initially planned. Public health officials say the vaccines the country is using offer a high level of immunity after one shot, although two are needed for full protection.
Britain has delivered 44 doses of vaccine for every 100 people, more than any other country with a population of more than 10 million, according to data compiled by Oxford University. The United States is second at 35 doses per 100.
Even as Britain celebrates its success, there are growing concerns about the failure of wealthy countries to share scarce vaccine supplies with developing nations.
French ICU patients at highest level this year
The number of people in intensive care units with Covid-19 in French hospitals has risen by 66 to 4,353, a new 2021 high, the health ministry reported on Saturday.
The number of new positive cases remained on a steadily increasing trend, up by 35,327 to 4.25 million, following an increase of 35,088 on Wednesday.
The virus’ cumulative death toll rose by 185 to 92,167 compared with a rise of 285 on Thursday.
In a separate statement, the ministry said that by Saturday 6.14 million people had received a first Covid vaccine shot, accounting for 9.2% of total population and 11.7% of the adult population.
Nearly a third of French people entered a month-long lockdown on Saturday as the government aims to contain the spread of the virus in the Paris region and parts of northern France.
Hello and welcome to today’s live coverage of the coronavirus pandemic with me, Helen Sullivan.
Here are the key developments from the last few hours:
- India reported 40,953 new coronavirus cases on Saturday, the biggest daily jump in nearly four months, with its richest state Maharashtra accounting for more than half the infections.
- Papua New Guinea reported rising coronavirus infections, highlighting the need for tougher social distancing restrictions that will take effect on Monday.
- Colombia’s president, Iván Duque, offered to receive the coronavirus vaccine developed by AstraZeneca to demonstrate its safety, following concerns over blood clotting.
- Pakistan’s prime minister Imran Khan has tested positive for Covid-19. The prime minister had been vaccinated on Thursday.
- Denmark reported two cases of hospital staff with blood clots and cerebral haemorrhage after receiving the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine.
- Scientist Dr Mike Tildesley advising the UK government, warned that international travel this summer is “extremely unlikely” for the average British holidaymaker.
- The Tokyo 2020 Olympic Organising Committee announced that international spectators will not be allowed to enter Japan during the Olympic Games scheduled for this summer.
- Chile set a new daily record for Covid-19 cases, leaving its hospitals on the verge of collapse.
- Greece will begin distributing free Covid-19 tests that will allow residents to test themselves and reduce pressure on the healthcare system.
- The Brazilian government has been in talks with the US about potentially importing excess Covid-19 vaccines since 13 March.
- Kenya’s plans to offer free Covid-19 vaccines to all diplomats based in the country, including United Nations staff, has been met with criticism by local medical staff.
- France recorded 35,327 new coronavirus cases in the past 24 hours, bringing the total number of positive cases to 4.25 million.
- An anti-lockdown demonstration in Kassel, Germany turned violent, and police forces deployed water cannons and used pepper spray to disperse crowds.
- Congo’s leading presidential opposition candidate, Guy Brice Parfait Kolelas, was hospitalised for Covid-19 ahead of Sunday’s election.