The Department of Health said that 75.2% of people over the age of 18 in the UK have received a vaccine and 49.5% are fully vaccinated after two doses.
Britain is racing to vaccinate all adults and curb a more contagious delta variant of the virus, which was first identified in India and is spreading rapidly in the UK.
The UK has recorded nearly 128,000 coronavirus deaths, the highest in Europe. A mass vaccination campaign that began in December has brought new infections and deaths drastically, but confirmed cases are increasing once again, although daily deaths remain low.
British Health Secretary Matt Hancock called the 75% milestone a big step forward, but warned that “a global pandemic of disinformation” threatened the vaccination campaign.
“The speed of misinformation is a deadly threat,” Hancock told an international meeting organized by Britain to encourage vaccine adoption.
The one-day Vaccine Confidence Summit, attended by virtually diplomats, politicians and academics including the chief US coronavirus response, Dr. Anthony Fauci and Dr. John Nkengasong, director of the Centers Africa Disease Control.
Heidi Larson, an anthropology professor who heads the Vaccine Confidence Project at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, said the pandemic had increased problems around questions about vaccines that “had been brewing for a long time. weather”.
“Covid has exposed many underlying issues of trust and mistrust,” Larson said, at the same time, the digital revolution accelerated information and misinformation around the world.
He said that when European nations changed the administration of AstraZeneca injections, which were withdrawn or limited in some countries due to a link to rare blood clots, “it shook the confidence of several African countries” in the vaccine.
“That global domino effect is another phenomenon that we are seeing in a different light,” said Larson, who spoke at Wednesday’s meeting.
He said the best that governments could do was to bridge “the huge gap in access to vaccines” around the world.
Rich countries have collected hundreds of millions of doses, while supply problems and the reluctance of nations, including Britain, to share doses before their own populations are fully inoculated has slowed a United Nations-backed effort to distribute vaccines to low- and middle-income people. countries.
Vaccine supplies will be high on the agenda when Hancock meets with health ministers from the Group of Seven wealthy countries Thursday at the University of Oxford, where the AstraZeneca vaccine was developed. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson will host US President Joe Biden and the other G-7 leaders at a summit in south-west England next week.
Britain’s government has faced strong criticism for missteps in handling the pandemic, including doubts about the country’s lockdown in March 2020 and testing failures that caused people with the virus to go released from hospitals to nursing homes, where thousands of residents died.
But his vaccination campaign has been widely praised. Britain won advance contracts for multiple vaccines, four of which have been approved for use, and has used doctors, soldiers and volunteers to administer more than 65 million doses at thousands of sites.
Hancock said Britain had bolstered confidence in vaccines by using “voices of confidence”, including naturalist David Attenborough and Queen Elizabeth II, to reveal that they had received an injection and to convey a message in favor of the vaccine.
He said another key factor was ensuring that the process was fair, giving vaccines first to the elderly and those most at risk, and then descending through age groups in an orderly fashion.
“We British love to stand in line,” Hancock said. “And there is nothing more disturbing than someone jumping the line.”