BORIS Johnson last night announced 3.2million Brits have now been vaccinated against Covid — but warned against any weakening of our resolve.
Infections in the UK have also plunged by 23 per cent over the past seven days.
The PM hailed the public’s lockdown efforts as it was revealed more than 500,000 people will get the jab every day by next month.
Scientists believe the R rate is less than 1 nationally — and as low as 0.8 in London — meaning the epidemic is retreating.
In a further boost, The Sun can reveal ten more mass vaccination centres are to open next week alongside those already running in places such as cathedrals and former nightclubs.
Mr Johnson vowed yesterday: “Jab by jab we will win this fight.”
In all, 316,694 people got their first dose yesterday, taking the UK total to 3.2million. That includes 45 per cent of over-80s and nearly 40 per cent of care home residents.
New mass sites at St Helens rugby league ground in Merseyside,
Bournemouth International Centre and Saxon Court in Milton Keynes are also expected to start vaccinating within days.
Despite the optimism, Mr Johnson urged Brits they still must think twice before leaving the house.
He warned the nation: “This is not the time for the slightest relaxation of our national resolve and our individual efforts. So please stay at home, please protect the NHS and save lives.”
Chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty said he believed the peak of infections had now passed for much of the country.
But he warned hospitals would be under severe pressure for another week to ten days, with large daily death tolls still to be expected.
He said: “I’m afraid in the next week we do anticipate the number of people in the NHS and the number of deaths will continue to rise as the effects of what everyone has done take a while to feed through.”
Chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance said infections were coming down because of the measures that were in place.
He added: “Take the lid off now and it’s going to boil over and we’re going to end up with a big problem.”
Mr Johnson shrugged off reported delays at some GP centres in getting patients vaccinated.
He said: “The crucial thing is, that everybody gets down to their vaccination centre to the hospital, to the primary care network, the local pharmacy, wherever the vaccination is being offered, when they get the message to come for your vaccine.
“We’ve got the army, pharmacies, local councils and the NHS.”
Prof Whitty also insisted vaccines be used as efficiently as possible amid worldwide delivery problems.
He said: “The thing which is limiting us at the moment is not the capacity of the NHS to deliver, it is the vaccines delivered.
"That is true across Europe, that is true across the world and all of us need to make sure that we use the vaccines we’ve got as efficiently as possible.”
Figures released yesterday show there are 53,528 new symptomatic cases a day — down 23 per cent from 69,958.
Cases have levelled off in most age groups, including the over-60s who are most likely to be admitted to hospital with the bug.
The figures from the Zoe Covid Symptom Study are based on swabs taken as recently as Sunday.
Study leader Professor Tim Spector, from King’s College London, said: “It’s great to see case numbers falling in most regions but numbers are still worryingly high and hospitals will stay under pressure for some time yet.
“With such high numbers and growing evidence new strains are highly transmissible, things can still take a turn for the worse.
“We need numbers to keep falling before we make changes to current restrictions.”
With such high numbers and growing evidence new strains are highly transmissible, things can still take a turn for the worse.
The Government yesterday said a further 1,280 people died within 28 days of testing positive for Covid. This is down from 1,325 last Friday and takes the UK total to 87,295.
University of Cambridge researchers say the epidemic is shrinking, with the R rate below 1 across much of the country.
Professor Sheila Bird said: “It is possible, although we’ll need to see data for a few more weeks to confirm, that Covid deaths may have peaked this week.”
But the Government’s scientific advisers estimate R is 1.2 to 1.3 — a change from 1 to 1.4 last week.
The Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) said London was the only region where R might be below 1.
Nationwide, they believe the epidemic is growing between two and five per cent each day.
Sage said: “There are some initial indications that areas that have had higher levels and been under tougher restrictions for longer are experiencing a slight decline in the numbers of people infected.
“Regions such as the North West and South West continue to see infections rise, which is likely to reflect the spread of the new variant in these areas.”
The experts said the impact of this month’s lockdown will not yet be reflected in the numbers.
They added: “If everyone continues to follow the rules, we can expect to drive down the R number across the country.”
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