U.K. Hits Milestone With Half of Adult Population Receiving One Dose of COVID Vaccine

The U.K. announced on Saturday that over half of all adults have now received at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine, becoming the first major world economy to reach that milestone.

"Yesterday we vaccinated more people than any day yet. I'm delighted to be able to say that we've now vaccinated HALF of all adults in the UK Flag of United Kingdom," U.K. Health Minister Matt Hancock tweeted on Saturday.

Yesterday we vaccinated more people than any day yet.

I'm delighted to be able to say that we've now vaccinated HALF of all adults in the UK 🇬🇧

The vaccine is a national success story & our way out of this pandemic.

When you get the call, get the jab. pic.twitter.com/hGX0nrRsYV

— Matt Hancock (@MattHancock) March 20, 2021

Hancock continued in a video message on Saturday by stating that the nation's vaccination efforts are a "huge success."

"The U.K. vaccination program is a big success story. It's down to the hard work of many many people. This isn't easy, but we're making massive strides," he added.

The health minister added that the U.K. was able to reach that figure after administering a record-breaking 660,276 shots a day earlier. The nation now aims to inoculate every adult over 50 by mid-April, and the rest of the population by the end of July.

On Saturday, U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson acknowledged the success by tweeting: "Many thanks to everyone involved in this fantastic achievement. Let's keep going!" On Friday, Johnson received his first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine.

More than half the adult population of the UK have now received their first jab.

Many thanks to everyone involved in this fantastic achievement. Let’s keep going! pic.twitter.com/cf9kWThmuM

— Boris Johnson (@BorisJohnson) March 20, 2021

By comparison, 23 percent of the U.S. adult population has received at least one dose of the vaccine, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Across the European Union, less than a tenth of the adult population has so far been vaccinated, Reuters reported. Europe's vaccine response lagged this week after more than a dozen nations temporarily suspended the use of the AstraZeneca shot over fears that it could lead to fatal blood clotting in some cases.

On Thursday, European Medicines Agency (EMA) announced that the vaccine was "safe and effective," prompting most nations to resume its use. However, some countries, including Denmark, Norway and Sweden, have continued to suspend the treatment. On Saturday, Denmark said one person died and another fell seriously ill with blood clots and cerebral hemorrhaging after receiving the AstraZeneca vaccine.

In total, the U.K ranks third in the world for the percentage of the population that has been vaccinated with at least one dose, according to data from the New York Times. Seychelles and Israel have each vaccinated more, with 65 percent and 58 percent of their populations receiving the shot, respectively.

U.K. vaccine
The U.K. announced Saturday that it had vaccinated half of its adult population. Here, Prime Minister Boris Johnson receives the first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine on March 19 in London. Frank Augstein-WPA Pool/Getty Images

Though the U.S. falls behind the U.K. in terms of population percentages, America has so far administered more vaccine doses than any other nation. By Saturday, the U.S. had administered over 118 million of the more than 420 million doses distributed worldwide, according to the Times.

Last week, President Joe Biden said that he directed states, tribes and territories to make all adults eligible for a vaccine by May 1. He added that his hope is to get the nation closer to "normal" by the Fourth of July.

"We're going to go from the million shots a day that I promised in December, before I was sworn in, to beating our current pace of 2 million shots a day, outpacing the rest of the world," Biden said on March 11.

However, some states, including South Dakota, Hawaii, North Dakota, Connecticut, West Virginia and New Mexico, are already moving closer to herd immunity and could soon reach a point where a majority of their population is inoculated.

Newsweek contacted representatives for the U.K. health minister for comments but did not hear back in time for publication.