Britain has given 10 million people a first COVID-19 vaccine dose

Syringes and an empty vial of a vaccine against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) are pictured in the Winding Wheel Theatre, Chesterfield, Britain February 3, 2021. REUTERS/Carl Recine

LONDON (Reuters) - More than 10 million people in Britain have received the first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said on Wednesday, describing the milestone as “hugely significant”.

Britain is aiming to offer a shot to all over-70s, highly vulnerable people, and frontline medics and care workers by the middle of February.

The pace of vaccinations, which are running at 400,000 shots a day, puts Britain only behind Israel and the United Arab Emirates in the number of doses delivered per 100 people.

“This is a hugely significant milestone in our national effort against this virus,” Hancock said on Twitter.

Government data showed 10,021,471 had received a first jab, while 498,962 had also received a second.

Britain was the first country to approve vaccines developed by Pfizer-BioNTech and Oxford University-AstraZeneca, enabling it to make an early start on roll-out.

It also struck supply deals with manufacturers early in the development of the vaccines, helping it avoid some of the supply shortages that are hampering European programmes.

Reporting by Paul Sandle; editing by Sarah Young and Andrew MacAskill