It comes as the number of first doses delivered in the UK passed four million. Indeed, the Government says it is on track to vaccinate around 15 million high-priority people across the UK by February 15, including frontline health and social care staff, the over 70s and people in care homes.
Once those vaccines have taken effect, around two to three weeks later ministers will consider whether lockdown measures can be eased in England.
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Aside from England, antibody data on infection in private households suggests that one in 10 in Wales had also been infected by December, alongside one in 13 in Northern Ireland and one in 11 in Scotland.
The figures come from the Office for National Statistic’s Covid-19 Infection Survey in partnership with the University of Oxford, University of Manchester, Public Health England and Wellcome Trust.
Last week, the Medical Research Council (MRC) Biostatistics Unit Covid-19 Working Group at Cambridge University said it believed the proportion of the population who have ever been infected was 30 per cent in London, 26 per cent in the North West and 21 per cent in the North East.
This dropped to 13 per cent in the South East and 8 per cent in the South West.
The latest official figures showed there was a record 37,475 people in hospital with the disease across the UK.
Meanwhile scientists advising the Government have warned there is a danger that people could start relaxing their guard as the vaccine started to become available.
The latest minutes of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), released last week, called for close monitoring of the situation with a system of “rapid alerts” if adherence to the rules begins to fall off.
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