COVID-19: Nearly 21 million people have had first vaccine dose as UK reports another 242 deaths

·2-min read

The UK has reported 242 more coronavirus-related deaths and 6,573 new cases in the latest 24-hour period, government data shows.

This compares to the 315 fatalities and 6,385 infections announced on Wednesday.

It comes as the number of people in the UK who have now had a first coronavirus vaccine dose nears 21 million after a further 278,956 had the jab on Wednesday.

And almost a million people - 963,862 - have now had the second jab, government figures show.

Watch: UK to fast-track modified coronavirus vaccines designed to combat new variants

Meanwhile, Downing Street has urged people to continue to respect the lockdown after a survey suggested more than four in 10 over-80s who received a vaccine appear to have since broken the rules by meeting up with someone indoors.

After the Office for National Statistics (ONS) data was released, the prime minister's official spokesman said: "It's important that people continue to follow the guidelines that are in place."

Asked if the elderly were behaving irresponsibly, the spokesman said: "We are asking everybody to continue to follow the rules and guidelines."

The survey found 43% of over-80s said they had met up with someone outside their household, support or care bubble indoors after getting their first jab.

And 41% admitted they did so less than three weeks after getting their first dose, "appearing to break lockdown regulations".

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Also, the UK could become one of the fastest countries in the world to approve new COVID-19 vaccines to tackle variants.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) will oversee a fast-track approach to approving new jabs, after studies suggested variants may make vaccines less effective.