Wales has become the first UK nation to administer the first dose of the Covid-19 vaccination to the equivalent of a third of its adult population.
On Friday, Public Health Wales said 839,065 people had received their first dose of either the Oxford/AstraZeneca or Pfizer/BioNTech jab – equating to 33.3% of adults in the country.
The figure was 32.1% in England and 31.3% in Scotland on Friday, with Thursday’s figures for Northern Ireland at 29.4%.
First Minister Mark Drakeford praised the “enormous efforts” of those involved with the country’s vaccination programme during a press conference on Friday.
Covid-19 vaccine update:
839,065 people in Wales have now had their first dose of the coronavirus vaccine.
25,433 people have had their second dose.
— Welsh Government #StayHome🏠 (@WelshGovernment) February 19, 2021
“We’re making really good progress with our vaccination programme thanks to the enormous efforts of all of those involved across Wales,” Mr Drakeford said.
“The very latest figures show that almost 840,000 people in Wales have already had their first dose and that’s equivalent to a full third of the adult population of Wales.
“This week we started offering people appointments for the second dose and more than 25,000 people have already had theirs.
“We are on track to reach the next milestone, to offer vaccination to everybody in priority groups five to nine by the end of April, provided that vaccine supplies also remain on course.”
Wales was also the first UK nation to offer coronavirus vaccines to everyone in the top four priority groups, with the Welsh Government announcing that it had hit the target on February 12.
On Friday, Mr Drakeford said the coronavirus situation in Wales had “improved significantly” since lockdown measures were introduced on December 20.
The seven-day incidence rate is around 84 cases per 100,000 people in Wales, with positivity rates falling and the R number below 1.
There is now evidence that reductions in community transmission are being seen in the NHS, with the number of people in hospital falling below 1,800 for the first time since early December.
The number of people with Covid-19 requiring intensive care treatment is also 50% lower than at the peak of the pandemic.
Mr Drakeford told reporters that this had created “headroom” to make changes to restrictions, including the return of children aged three to seven to the classroom from Monday.
Four people from two different households will also be able to exercise outdoors together, while more elite athletes will be able to resume training and playing.
Visitor attractions and hotels that are licensed wedding venues will be able to open for weddings and civil partnerships.
The Welsh Government is also examining whether more care home visits can take place, Mr Drakeford said.