BRITAIN will smash its coronavirus vaccine target TODAY – two days ahead of schedule.
All 15 million Brits in the top four most vulnerable categories are on course to receive the jab by Monday in a huge boost in the fight against the bug.
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Figures released today revealed that 14,012,224 doses of the Pfizer and Oxford vaccines have been administered in the UK.
But this total does not include the 503,116 jabs given out on Thursday.
With the current rate of vaccination, it is highly likely that the government's target of vaccinating 15 million people will be hit today.
Vaccination figures have also traditionally been higher on weekends in the past month.
Last Saturday, the UK administered an incredible 549,808 jabs – and gave out a record 598,389 on January 30.
Boris Johnson set the ambitious goal during a Downing Street briefing in December, pledging that a successful rollout would offer an exit strategy from lockdown.
The vaccine rollout has currently focused on the top four priority groups, which includes the over-70s, care home residents, healthcare workers and Brits who are shielding.
But the programme is so advanced in some areas that over-50s are asked to come forward to get the jab.
And the NHS revealed yesterday that the vaccine rollout in England will be extended to people over 65, giving three million more vulnerable adults the opportunity to have their first dose.
Professor Stephen Powis, NHS medical director, urged anyone in the top four priority groups who had not received the jab to come forward and reiterated they have "not missed their chance".
Matt Hancock revealed earlier this week that vaccine uptake in vulnerable groups had already exceeded the government's targets.
Uptake in the over-75s is at 93% in England, the Department of Health said, as it aims to get the highest possible take-up in all other groups.
Ministers will embark on a promotion blitz this weekend in a bid to encourage more Brits to get the jab.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak will speak with healthcare staff at Leeds United's Elland Road ground while it serves as a vaccination centre, and Home Secretary Priti Patel is volunteering at the Guru Nanak Gurdwara Temple in Bedford.
Meanwhile, in Wales, First Minister Mark Drakeford said some over-50s there have already begun to be contacted and offered a vaccination as the top four groups had been reached.
A Welsh Government spokesman said it was still contacting anyone in groups one to four "who may have changed their minds or may have been ill or may have, for some reason, not been able to take up the appointment".
Research also shows the vaccine is doing its job of preventing people dying of Covid in a huge morale boost for Britain.
Scientists from the Covid-19 Actuaries Response Group modelled the effect of the vaccine rollout as it progresses.
Graphs show that up until February 12, deaths have reduced by around 10 per cent in the top four vaccine priority groups – including the over 70s, care home residents and most clinically vulnerable.
Once the top four priority groups have received their vaccine, a target set to be smashed today, deaths could fall by a staggering 85 per cent six weeks later.
It takes at least three weeks after a vaccine dose for the immune system to build up antibodies that fight the virus.
In a further boost in the fight against the pandemic, government scientists yesterday announced the R rate – the rate that the virus reproduces – had shrunk below 1.
SAGE estimate that the R number is now between 0.7 and 0.9, meaning the epidemic is shrinking.
Elsewhere, new data from the Office for National Statistics shows a drop in infections, with around one in 80 people in private households in England having Covid-19 between January 31 and February 6.
This is down from around one in 65 people for the period January 24 to 30.
On February 9, the latest date for which figures are available, the number of patients in hospital with Covid-19 in the UK stood at 25,621.
This is down 35% from a peak of 39,236 on January 18, and is the lowest number since December 29.
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