Health Secretary Matt Hancock has said that, as of Sunday morning, three quarters of all people over 80 in the UK have been vaccinated.
“(This) is absolutely brilliant progress,” he said, speaking to Sky’s Sophy Ridge On Sunday.
“Similar number of care homes, around three quarters and in fact we’ve vaccinated more people in just the last three days than France has in the entire history of this disease.”
Mr Hancock also defended the Government’s decision to delay the second doses of those receiving the Pfizer vaccine.
Mr Hancock said the responsible course of action was to get “as many people protected… as quickly as possible” he said.
Mr Hancock said that case numbers were “incredibly high” and the NHS remained under intense pressure.
“There is early evidence that the lockdown is starting to bring cases down but we are a long, long, long way from being low enough because the case rate was incredibly high,” he told Sky News’s Sophy Ridge on Sunday programme.
“You can see the pressure on the NHS – you can see it every day.”
It came in response to concerns over delaying the Pfizer vaccine by up to 12 weeks.
A GP described the extended time between doses of coronavirus vaccinations as an “unregulated and unlicensed trial”.
Dr Rosie Shire, a member of the Doctors’ Association UK, said studies of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine show two doses three weeks apart gave 90% immunity.
“What really concerns us is we don’t know what happens if you don’t give that second dose of vaccination after three weeks.”
“The fact is that people are being vaccinated now and being put into what is effectively an unregulated unlicensed trial, whereby they’re receiving this vaccination on the understanding that they don’t know what’s going on.”
It came as Mr Hancock refused to guarantee schools would return and insisted the government was taking the necessary action to stop cases coming into the UK at the border.
Asked about schools returning after February half-term, Mr Hancock said: “I would hope so but we have to look at the data.”
He reiterated promises there would be two weeks notice given to parents ahead of schools reopening.
Mr Hancock also suggested tougher controls could be introduced awarning “we can’t risk the progress we have made”.
As reports circulated that ministers could introduce Covid quaranine hotels.
Mr Hancock has said “we would like to have more information on the new variants” seen abroad, as he insisted the UK was taking enough actions at the UK’s border.
He said: “We’ve been learning about the virus all along haven’t we and one of the critical questions for instance right now is, after you’ve been vaccinated how much impact does that have on how much you might transmit the virus, as well as the impact on you in terms of serious disease and that’s one of the key questions that will impact on how quickly we can lift measures.
“We would like to have more information on the new variants that we’ve seen abroad, especially the two particular variants of concern that have emanated from South Africa and Brazil and we’re working on those, but we find out more all the time.”