In a statement to the Commons on Tuesday afternoon, the Health Secretary marked 12 weeks since Margaret Keenan became the first person in the world to receive a Pfizer coronavirus vaccine.
He told MPs that the UK vaccination programme was a “phenomenal achievement” that would allow the Government to replace protections given by lockdown restrictions with the science of vaccination.
“This morning, the Office for National Statistics published new data on the levels of protection people have,” said Mr Hancock.
“They show that up to February 11, one in four people are estimated to have antibodies against coronavirus in England, up from one in five.
“The levels are highest in the over-80s, the first group to be vaccinated, showing again the protection from the vaccine across the country.”
The Health Secretary said people can have confidence they will get protection from whichever jab they are offered.
He told the Commons: “The second piece of research, published last night, shows that a single dose of either the Oxford or Pfizer vaccine delivers protection against severe infection in the over-70s, with a more than 80 per cent reduction in hospitalisations.
“It is great news that both vaccines work so effectively and, in fact, the protection from catching Covid 35 days after the first jab is even slightly better for the Oxford jab than for Pfizer.
“So, people can have confidence that they will get protection whichever jab they’re offered.”
Mr Hancock told MPs that over-60s will now be invited for their first dose of a coronavirus vaccine and that despite some “lumpy” figures of the day-to-day supply of jabs, “bumper weeks” are ahead.
“Given that our vaccination programme began 12 weeks ago today, from now we begin in earnest our programme of second vaccinations which ramps up over the month of March,” said Mr Hancock.
“I can assure the House that we have factored these second jabs into our supply projections and we’re on track to meet our target of offering a vaccine to all priority groups one to nine by April 15 and all adults by the end of July.”
People aged 80 and over were among the earliest groups to receive the Covid-19 vaccine, with first doses being offered from early December.
Some 56.4 per cent are likely to have tested positive for the antibodies in the 28 days to February 11, according to the latest estimates from the Office for National Statistics (ONS).
This was “most likely because of the high vaccination rate in this group”, the ONS said.