Britain has recorded 156 deaths within 28 days of a positive Covid test on Saturday.
There were 29,547 new cases of the virus, an unexpected drop from the 37,578 positive tests reported a week earlier – despite the schools reopening after the summer holidays.
However, the number of deaths has risen from 120 reported last Saturday.
Government figures on Friday showed there were 147 coronavirus-related deaths and 37,622 new infections.
A total of 134,144 people have died within 28 days of testing positive for the virus, according to data updated on Saturday.
It comes as a total of 48,395,359 people have now had their first dose of the coronavirus vaccine, up to and including yesterday – equating to 89 per cent.
Meanwhile 80.8% of the population, 43,895,440, have now had their second dose.
Professor Dame Sarah Gilbert, one of the leading scientists in the development of the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine, said Covid immunity is ‘lasting well’ for most people who are double jabbed.
The mass booster programme is not necessary, she said – suggesting surplus shots should be sent to countries with a lower immunisation rate.
Earlier this week, the head of AstraZeneca warned rushing a booster programme could put the NHS under unnecessary pressure.
But ministers including Health Secretary Sajid Javid are determined to press on in a bid to avoid a spike in cases which could lead to restrictions being brought back.
A surge in cases could lead to the return of mandatory face masks – with Boris Johnson said to be preparing a ‘toolbox’ of contingency measures, including vaccine boosters and event passports.
Three large hospitals suspended all routine and urgent surgeries following an influx of Covid patients on Friday.
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