Britain passes 20 MILLION second Covid vaccines in huge milestone as almost two in five adults now fully protected

MORE than 20million Brits have now had both Covid jabs in a mega milestone for the UK's vaccination programme.

Official figures from NHS England reveal a further 353,764 second doses have been administered in the past 24 hours.

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And across the country, 19,698,121 second jabs have been dished out – meaning almost two in five are now fully vaccinated.

It comes as Matt Hancock announced people aged 35 and over will be welcomed in for their first inoculation in the coming days.

The Health Secretary confirmed this morning that jabs will become available to the latest age group – as the super-infectious Indian mutation takes hold in the UK.

He told the BBC's Andrew Marr surge vaccinations will open in Bolton, a hotspot for the new variant – before adding: "This coming week we will be opening up vaccinations to everyone 35 and over across the country.

"It isn't just about accelerating the programme in Bolton.

"It's about going as fast as we can nationwide."

News that the jab will be offered to younger Brits comes just days after bookings opened for people aged 38 and 39 in England.

But the Government is aiming to push through the programme faster than ever – as the Indian mutation is up to 50 per cent more transmissible than the Kent variant.

In interviews this morning, Mr Hancock said no one who has received two jabs has yet died of the mutation.

"The main message for everyone is to get vaccinated – if you're in an eligible group, come forward," he said.

"In Bolton, we have seen number of people in hospital with the variant.

"The vast majority have been eligible for the jab but not taken it.

"If you're eligible, please come forward – we know the jab protects you."

And he said 18 people are in hospital with the Indian variant – of whom five have had one jab, and one – a "frail" patient – has had both.

Asked if anyone who has received two jabs has died of the illness, he replied: "Not that we're aware of."

The Indian strain is set to become dominant in Britain, experts believe.

Despite that, the UK will take a huge step towards freedom tomorrow, with hugs, hols abroad and even casual sex making a very welcome return.

Under the new rules, Brits will be able to meet inside – still following the rule of six or two household restriction.

Hotels and B&Bs will reopen, and would-be holidaymakers dreaming of a sunshine break will finally be able to take overseas trips.

Indoor entertainment and attractions are also set to open up – and groups can head to the pub and sit inside.

Indoor exercise classes will reopen, and those less active can finally head to cinemas and museums.

Theatre and concert performances – along with sports events – will also start to allow 1,000 people, or 50 per cent of the venue's capacity – whichever is lower – to start again.

Under the rule change, weddings and receptions will be able to go ahead with 30 people.

The rules are different for funerals. Rather than having a strict limit, the capacity will be determined by how many people places of worship or funeral homes can safely have inside while mourners are social distancing.

Social distancing will remain in place in the weeks to come.

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