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Four in five people aged 16 and over fully vaccinated in UK – as daily COVID deaths hit highest level since March

Four in five people aged 16 and over in the UK have now received both doses of a COVID-19 vaccine – as Health Secretary Sajid Javid hailed it as a “phenomenal achievement”. Also, the country has recorded 209 more coronavirus-related deaths and 37,489 new infections in the latest 24-hour period.

A total of 43,535,098 people have had two jabs (80.1%) and 48,292,811 have been given one dose (88.8%), according to government data.

Also, more than half of all teenagers aged 16 to 17 in England have already received their first dose, just over four weeks after the green light was given for this age group to be offered the vaccine.

It comes as a new campaign has been launched on social media to encourage more vaccine uptake among younger adults and children eligible for the jab.

Mr Javid said: “It is a phenomenal achievement that four in five adults across the UK have now received both COVID-19 vaccines, which have built a wall of defence around the UK and are allowing us to live safely with this virus.

“It is fantastic to see so many leading companies doing everything they can to help encourage young people to get the jab, from TikTok to MTV, as well as other household names who have already rallied behind the rollout like Uber.

“Getting your vaccine has never been easier, and I urge everyone to continue to play their part by getting the jab to protect themselves, their families and their communities.”

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The UK’s chief medical officers are reviewing the wider benefits of vaccinating healthy 12 to 15-year-olds, such as minimising school absences, after the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) declined to recommend a widespread rollout to the age group on health grounds alone.

Meanwhile, government data showed the UK has recorded 37,489 new COVID cases and 209 more coronavirus-related deaths in the latest 24-hour period.

That’s the highest number of daily deaths since 9 March when 231 fatalities were announced.

The latest figures compare with 41,192 infections and 45 fatalities reported on Monday, while 32,181 cases and 50 deaths were announced last Tuesday.

Last Wednesday, 207 deaths were recorded along with 35,693 infections.

The number of deaths involving coronavirus registered each week in England and Wales is at its highest level for five months.

A total of 668 deaths registered in the week ending 27 August mentioned COVID-19 on the death certificate, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS) – the highest number since 719 deaths were registered in the week to 26 March.

The latest figures show the impact of the third wave of COVID-19 which began in the UK in May, but the number of fatalities is well below the level experienced at the peak of the second wave – reflecting the success of the vaccination programme.

According to the latest government data, 905 COVID patients in the UK were admitted to hospital on 3 September and there were 6,641 admissions in the last seven days, a 1.6% rise on the previous week.

Since the pandemic began in early 2020, a total of 133,483 people have died in the UK within 28 days of a positive COVID test and there have been 7,056,106 lab-confirmed cases.

Separate figures published by the ONS show there have been 158,000 deaths registered in the UK where COVID was mentioned on the death certificate.

Also, the government has denied reports there is a plan to implement a firebreak lockdown in England around the October half-term if there is a new surge in COVID-19 cases.

But a Downing Street spokesman did say there are “contingency plans” for a “range of scenarios”, adding that “these kind of measures would only be reintroduced as a last resort to prevent unsustainable pressure on our NHS”.

Earlier, speaking on Sky News, vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi did not deny that ‘firebreak’ restrictions could be implemented next month if COVID hospitalisations remain high – but said it depends on the success of the booster jab programme for the elderly and most vulnerable.

Mr Zahawi said the booster programme is his “absolute priority” as it will “absolutely help us to transition the virus from pandemic to endemic status”.

But he warned that the “one-way road towards sustaining the opening of the economy” will only happen “if we do that well”.

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In another development, National Insurance contributions will rise by 1.25% from next April to pay for the social care system in England in a bid to end what the government calls the “unpredictable and catastrophic costs” faced by many.

The increase is expected to raise about £12bn a year which, in the first three years, will mainly be used to fund dealing with the NHS backlog caused by the COVID pandemic.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he accepts the measure breaks a Tory manifesto pledge not to hike National Insurance, but that it was a necessary move due to coronavirus financial pressures.

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