More than six million people in the UK are now fully vaccinated against COVID, while nearly 32 million have had their first dose.
Another 99,530 first jabs were administered on Wednesday, taking the total to 31,807,124.
And there were 408,396 second jabs, the second highest daily total to date, taking the number of people fully protected against COVID to 6,091,905.
There have been 3,030 more coronavirus cases recorded in the latest 24-hour period – that compares to 2,763 yesterday and 4,479 last Thursday.
The number of deaths within 28 days of a positive test has risen by 53 to 126,980. There were 45 COVID-related deaths reported yesterday and 51 last Thursday.
With just four days to go until a major milestone in the prime minister’s roadmap for easing lockdown in England, the cases and deaths figures will remain encouraging for the government.
Non-essential retail will reopen on Monday, restaurants and pubs will be able to serve customers outdoors, gyms will welcome members again, and people will be able to get a long-awaited haircut.
Lockdown has worked in tandem with the vaccine rollout to drive down infections, hospitalisations and deaths, but inoculations will be “considerably slower” until the end of July due to supply problems.
Vaccination numbers have been notably lower so far this month as the focus is placed on administering second jabs rather than moving down the age groups, but have picked up slightly since Tuesday saw the lowest number of first doses given since early January (40,744).
The jab from the US pharmaceutical giant, along with the one from Pfizer, will be key if the government is to meet its target of offering every adult a jab by the end of July.
That’s as the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, which has been the backbone of the UK’s successful rollout, will take a backseat to the other jabs once younger age groups start getting offered appointments.
Yesterday it was announced that Britons aged 18-29 would be given an alternative to the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine where possible, due to concerns over a possible link between the jab and rare blood clots.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock has since told Sky News that the UK has “more than enough” doses of Pfizer and Moderna vaccines for the under-30s.
The sister of a man who died from a blood clot after receiving the Oxford jab has said she is “very angry”, but still “strongly” believes people should have the vaccine.
Neil Astles, 59, died on Sunday after getting the vaccine on 17 March, his sister, who is a pharmacist, said.
Dr Alison Astles told Sky News: “You’re never going to have a medicine that is perfectly safe. They don’t exist.”