The UK’s coronavirus hospital death toll has increased by 1,185 – the biggest single-day jump of the entire pandemic.
England reported 1,027 new fatalities, Scotland had 92, Wales recorded 44 and Northern Ireland had 22 to bring the hospital total to 74,807.
By comparison, the tolls announced on recent Wednesdays were 1,176 on January 13 (the previous record high), 831 on January 6, 556 on December 30, 535 on December 23 and 445 on December 16.
The highest increase on a Wednesday was 936 fatalities on April 8, when the UK was in the deadliest days of its first wave.
Figures tend to spike on Tuesdays and Wednesdays following a weekend reporting lag.
The latest totals came as the UK’s chief scientific adviser said vaccines are not doing enough “heavy lifting” at the moment and case rates need to drop further before the Government can think of easing lockdown restrictions.
Sir Patrick Vallance said the country still had a long way to go in battling coronavirus but in a direct message to the public said there was “light at the end of the tunnel”.
The Government needs to hit an average of 384,000 first doses per day to reach a target of vaccinating 15 million of the most vulnerable by February 15.
It has pledged that all those in the top priority groups, including the over-70s and frontline health and social care workers, will have received an offer to have had their first dose of the jab given to them by mid-February.
The Government’s official death toll (in all settings) is approaching 92,000 fatalities within 28 days of a positive test, but the true total is more than 105,000 when all death certificates mentioning Covid-19 are included.
NHS England reported a further 1,027 deaths, bringing the total number of fatalities in NHS hospitals to 63,322.
A total of 4,419,704 Covid-19 vaccinations had taken place in England between December 8 and January 19, according to provisional NHS England data, including first and second doses, which is a rise of 301,362 on Tuesday’s figures.
Of this number, 3,985,579 were the first dose of the vaccine, a rise of 298,3730 on Tuesday’s figures, while 434,125 were the second dose, an increase of 2,989.
The Government’s programme to test pupils and staff daily in secondary schools and colleges as an alternative to self-isolation will be “paused” in the latest in a string of U-turns.
Public Health England (PHE) and NHS Test and Trace recommended that the daily testing in schools and colleges was paused as they said the balance between the risks and benefits were “unclear” in light of the new variant.