The UK’s coronavirus hospital death toll has soared by 478.
England reported 361 fatalities, Scotland had 64, Wales recorded 45 and Northern Ireland 8 announced to bring the overall count to 478.
The number is a huge leap from Tuesday which recorded 372 hospital deaths and Wednesday last week when 406 people died.
The news comes as England’s deputy chief medical officer Professor Jonathan Van-Tam explained how the timetable for developing and approving a vaccine had been condensed from the usual several years due to the coronavirus crisis.
But despite the speedy approval process the Deputy CMO poured cold water on being back to normal by Easter.
He said vaccines won’t be a get out clause for the second wave.
“There’s no shortcut to the future,” he told a journalist at the briefing.
Professor Van-Tam said they will be an NHS briefing next week on plans for rollout, which is expected to start on December 1, and would not “steal their thunder” by giving out details.
But he said obvious questions include whether there is sufficient refrigeration capacity, transport systems are adequate and if there are enough needles and syringes.
“The answer to which I am very reassured on all of those points. An absolute army of people have been working on this for months behind the scenes, quietly,” he said.
“I am nevertheless absolutely convinced that the enormous NHS team behind this has grasped the nettle and understands the scale and challenge of the project and is up for it.”
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said on Tuesday he expected GPs to play a big role in administering any coronavirus jab.
But GPs have said they will need support to deliver the Covid-19 vaccination programme as health bosses acknowledged some other family doctor services may need to be scaled back.
Professor Martin Marshall, chairman of the Royal College of GPs, said existing pressures meant family doctors would need help from colleagues to manage the vaccination programme.
He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme on Wednesday it was right that GPs were at the heart of vaccination but added: “We can’t do everything with the current resources.
“The issue here is mostly about the staff.
“We can’t do the usual things that we do in general practice – looking after acutely ill patients, dealing with people who might have cancer, dealing with people who have long-term conditions, continuing to deliver immunisation, other immunisation programmes – at the same time as delivering the vaccine without having extra staff.”