COVID-19: 350,000 people in UK receive first coronavirus jab, prime minister says

·2-min read

The prime minister has said 350,000 people across the UK have received their first dose of a coronavirus vaccine.

Boris Johnson revealed the figure after being asked for it by a member of the public during Saturday's Downing Street news conference.

Mike from Cheshire suggested the number should be added to the daily statistics released about positive tests and fatalities.

Mr Johnson said he was confident that a "significant proportion" of the population would be vaccinated by spring, and that "things will be radically different for our country by Easter".

Those who have received their initial injection are not immune yet, and will need a booster jab 21 days after the first one.

During the televised update, the PM also announced new COVID-19 restrictions - effectively cancelling Christmas for millions of people.

Mr Johnson said a new variant of the virus could be up to "70% more transmissible" and that he had "no alternative" but to toughen measures for those across southeast England.

Professor Chris Whitty, England's chief medical officer, said it was the "working assumption" that the vaccine would work against the new variant.

He told the news conference: "I think this is a situation which is going to make things a lot worse. (But) there are some really optimistic things - assuming the vaccine works against this, which I think at the moment is the working assumption."

Daniel Altmann, professor of immunology at Imperial College London, struck a more positive note.

"The vaccines induce neutralising antibodies to several parts of spike ('epitopes') and most of these would be unchanged by the mutations - so the vaccines will still work," he said.

Last week, 90-year-old Margaret Keenan, a grandmother of four, became the first person in the world to be inoculated against COVID-19 after receiving her first jab at Coventry's University Hospital.