Almost 600,000 people in the UK were vaccinated against Covid-19 on Saturday, a daily record for the vaccine programme.
Uptake was particularly strong in England, with almost 540,000 people receiving their first vaccination. In Wales, just over 25,000 people got their initial jab, along with almost 23,000 in Scotland and just over 10,500 in Northern Ireland.
In total, 598,389 vaccinations were administered across the UK on Saturday. Of the 9,468,382 jabs given in the UK so far, 8,977,329 were first doses and 491,053 were second doses.
The seven-day rolling average of first doses given in the UK is now 374,858. Based on the latest figures, an average of 401,512 first doses of vaccine would be needed each day in order to meet the government’s target of 15m first doses by 15 February.
The Midlands has delivered more vaccines than any other English region (1,533,699), followed by north-east England and Yorkshire (1,306,355). London and the south-west have vaccinated the fewest, with 950,032 and 946,947 doses respectively.
The UK’s vaccine programme has been in operation for seven weeks, since 90-year-old Margaret Keenan became the first person to be vaccinated, on 8 December.
Currently only the four most vulnerable groups are entitled to their first dose of the vaccine: those over 70, care home residents, health and social care workers and the clinically extremely vulnerable.
Prof Anthony Harnden, deputy chair of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation, said he was confident of the UK’s vaccine supply, following fears it could be interrupted by the EU’s export controls and its demands for British-manufactured vaccines.
He told BBC Breakfast: “We’re progressing extremely well in the number of vaccines in this country, we’ve had 8.3m first doses so far.
“These vaccines aren’t easy to manufacture, it’s a complicated process involving a lot of batch testing and supply chains. There are bound to be some bumps along the road.
“I’m quite confident the vaccine taskforce has ordered so many millions of doses of different vaccines that we can keep the supply going.”
On the dosing regime, he said advice is that if supply issues make it difficult to have two doses of the same vaccine, it is better to have a second dose of a different vaccine rather than no dose at all.
Dr Susan Hopkins, Covid-19 strategic response director at Public Health England, said experts were looking at developing studies on receiving the two doses from different vaccines.
“In some other infections, we can see that is often an effective strategy, because it challenges the immune system in slightly different ways,” she told BBC One’s The Andrew Marr Show. “That hasn’t been studied for this virus or for these vaccines yet, but we will have answers over the course of the year no doubt.”