More than 15 million in United Kingdom given first dose of coronavirus vaccine

Covid-19 vaccine: UAE administers more than 5 million doses

"Every jab in the arm is another step closer to returning to normality in the future and that's why we're now inviting the next priority group to book their appointments", Vaccine Minister Nadhim Zahawi said in a statement.

Britain's vaccination programme is seen as one of few successes in the government's handling of a pandemic in which the country has suffered a higher death toll and worse economic damage than its peers.

Sunday's shipment amounts to about 42% of the two million doses of the AstraZeneca and Oxford University vaccine the country plans to import from India, in addition to packaging it locally, the government said. As France tries to figure out why its vaccination campaign launched so slowly, the answer lies partly in forests of red tape and the decision to prioritize vulnerable older people in nursing homes.

And Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said it was "on track" to meet the "important milestone" and officials could now focus on vaccinating all over-50s by May and all adults by September. In the last seven days, 4,816 deaths were officially recorded by the government - down 26 percent on the previous week.

Over 12 million people in England have now received jabs to protect against coronavirus and the government is expected to expand the criteria to start covering the most vulnerable within the over-65 age group.

These groups have accounted for 88 per cent of the UK's COVID-19 deaths so far, according to the Department of Health and Social Care and are estimated by the JCVI to be some 15 million people.

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Britain, which has been the hardest hit in Europe by the pandemic, registering almost 117,000 deaths within 28 days of a positive Covid-19 test, has led the world in promptly approving the use of several vaccines.

"I hope that COVID-19 will become a treatable disease by the end of the year", Hancock told the newspaper. Highest priority health-care workers and very high priority health-care workers have been identified as groups who should be vaccinated "immediately".

"Unless vaccines are distributed more equitably, it could be years before the coronavirus is brought under control at a global level", said Olivier Wouters, lead author of the report.

Johnson also said he was feeling "optimistic" ahead of a planned announcement on February 22 of his road map for England to exit lockdown - but added that "we have to be cautious". United Kingdom government scientific advisers say the COVID-19 variant now predominant in the country may be up to 70% more deadly than previous variants, underscoring concerns about how mutations may change the characteristics of the disease.

Hospitalizations and deaths as a result of the virus are also falling.

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