The UK is ‘nearly on the home straight’ of the coronavirus pandemic after 324,000 vaccination doses were administered in 24 hours, Matt Hancock has claimed. 

The Health Secretary said the country can now ‘see a way out’ from the crisis, after the Prime Minister said more than 3.5 million people in the UK have now received their first jab.

The UK approved a vaccine in December and has is now among the countries to have vaccinated the most people, by population. 

Writing in the Sunday Express, Mr Hancock said: ‘We can see the way out of this pandemic. We are nearly on the home straight.

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‘After months of detailed preparations, rigorous scientific scrutiny and an extraordinary amount of patience, we are rolling out two highly effective vaccines, with a third coming in spring and others progressing through clinical trials.

‘We’re rolling it out to as many vulnerable people as possible and we expect tens of millions of people to be vaccinated by the spring.’

The Oxford/AstraZeneca and Pfizer/BioNTech jabs have been rolled out in the UK, while a third – developed by Moderna – has been approved but is only expected to become available to the country in the spring.

PM Boris Johnson hailed those helping the ‘fantastic national effort’ after the latest vaccination data was revealed. 

Ministers are urging the public to ‘play their part’ in supporting the vaccination programme, such as by helping the elderly attend their appointments.

And Mr Hancock said people should also sign up to clinical trials for vaccines and treatments, and stay informed with accurate and trusted NHS advice.

He urged the public to commit to ‘three pledges’ to support the rollout, saying: ‘Everyone has a part to play in this national effort – to protect our NHS, our loved ones and other people’s loved ones too.’

His plea came as another 1,295 deaths in the UK were reported on Saturday, the third-highest daily total since the pandemic began, but the lowest number of confirmed new cases this year, of 41,346.

The figures will be seen as a sign that infections may be levelling off or falling as a result of the lockdown measures, though scientists believe the peak in deaths will come later.

Meanwhile, Government sources dismissed as speculation reports in the Sunday Telegraph that every adult in Britain could be vaccinated by the end of June.

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