Another 343 people have died within 28 days of testing positive for Covid, bringing the total number to 123,639.

An additional 6,391 new cases were also recorded across the UK, with this map showing where infection rates are still rising in England.

More than one in ten (11%) areas in have seen an increase in cases, but they are generally tumbling across the country.

Deaths are also falling, with numbers reaching their lowest level since October on Monday.

The Department of Health figures come as scientists hail ‘stunning’ vaccine data which found that protection against symptomatic Covid-19 in the over-70s was around 60% for both Oxford and Pfizer after a single dose.

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The study also found that among the over-80s the vaccines offered more than 80% protection against hospital admission.

Professor Andrew Pollard, director of the Oxford Vaccine Group, said the findings were ‘stunning’, and this was for two reasons.

‘First of all, because these data come from the hardest group to protect – those who are the frailest, the oldest adults in our population – and we’re seeing an 80% reduction in hospitalisation in that group, which is stunning,’ he said.

‘Second… both of the vaccines performed exactly the same, there was no daylight between them. ‘We’ve had all this difficulty with communication, particularly around Europe, with uncertainty about the evidence, whereas in the UK we’ve been rolling out both vaccines in the confidence that they would both give high levels of protection.

‘And that’s absolutely what we’ve seen now in this real-world evidence – that whether you’ve had a Pfizer vaccine or the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine, you have very high levels of protection.’

Another 203, 186 people received a first dose on March 1st, bringing the total figure to 20,478,619.

Meanwhile, the number of people who have had both doses has reached 844,098.

But there are fears the UK ‘may go backwards’ over a missing case of a ‘concerning’ Brazil strain.

Six cases of the variant that emerged in the Amazonian city of Manaus have been identified in the UK, but officials have been unable to locate one carrier who has gone under the radar because the person did not complete their test and trace registration card.

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Health Secretary Matt Hancock said on Tuesday that the search has been narrowed down to 379 households in the south east.

Research published today found the Manaus variant, known as the P1, could cause reinfection in up to 61% of people who have already had Covid.

More to follow

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