By Alistair Smout
Every adult in the United Kingdom has been offered a first dose of COVID-19 vaccine, the health ministry said on Sunday, ahead of the end of legal restrictions in England on Monday.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson's target was for every adult who wanted to a shot to be able to get one by July 19.
So far, 87.8% of adults have received a first shot of COVID-19 vaccine, with the government also meeting a target to give two-thirds of adults two doses of vaccine by Monday.
Johnson is proceeding with the full re-opening of the economy despite a fresh surge of cases fuelled by the highly transmissible Delta variant. New infections are running at their highest level since January.
Some scientists have expressed concern about the re-opening given the high case rates, the substantial proportion of the population which is not yet fully vaccinated and the projected increases in hospitalisations and deaths.
Johnson's health minister, Sajid Javid, on Saturday said he had tested positive for COVID-19 and was self-isolating.
Johnson argues that the vaccine rollout has substantially weakened the link between COVID cases and deaths, and that summer is the best time to reopen the economy since pressures on the health service are lower
"Thank you again to everyone coming forward, and to those helping others to get jabbed. You are the reason we are able to cautiously ease restrictions next week, and return closer towards normal life," Johnson said in a statement.