The government said another 1,820 people died within 28 days of testing positive for Covid-19 – the highest number of deaths in the UK reported in a single day since the outbreak began.
It comes just 24 hours after 1,610 were recorded – the previous daily record, but not one we want to record.
The total number of cases registered on the last day is 38,905.
Sir Patrick Vallance said the country still has a long way to go to fight the coronavirus. It described scenes in some hospitals as “war zones” but added that there is “light at the end of the tunnel”.
According to calculations by the PA news agency, the government must take an average of 384,000 first doses a day to meet its target of vaccinating 15 million of the most vulnerable by February 15.
New figures released on Wednesday show that the total number of people who have received first doses in the UK is now close to 4.5 million.
The government has pledged that all members of the priority groups, including those over 70 and frontline health and social workers, have received an offer to receive their first dose of the shock by mid-February.
In a Q&A with Sky News viewers, Sir Patrick was asked if the lockdown should be maintained if the infection numbers stay the same or fall.
“The advice right now is that vaccines aren’t going to do the heavy lifting for us right now, anywhere near,” he said.
“I’m afraid it is about the restrictive measures under which we all live and which we are continuing.
“The numbers are nowhere near where they need to be right now, they have to go down a lot – we have to make sure we stick with them.
“You go for a walk in the park or something, life looks normal; You are walking in a hospital. When you work in a hospital, you will find that life does not look normal at all.
“This is a really difficult and dangerous situation that we are in and we have to cut the numbers. So I don’t think it makes sense to publish these measures in the short term.”