The milestone was passed on the eve of the latest and most significant relaxation of lockdown restrictions on Monday, when restaurants and pubs can serve indoors and families and friends can meet in one another’s homes and hug.
Vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi hailed the “incredible public response” to the vaccination campaign and urged everyone to come forward and get their jabs as soon as they are eligible.
Health services across the UK have administered a total of 56,677,012 vaccines between 8 December and 15 May, including 36,573,354 people with their first dose (69.4 per cent of the adult population) and 20,103,658 with their second (38.2 per cent).
These included 237,331 receiving a first dose and 391,246 a second dose on Saturday.
It came as the NHS smartphone app began recording individuals’ vaccine status for the first time, in a step which will be necessary for any future move to use proof of status a “passport” for access to certain venues.
However, the latest statistics released by DHSC showed that both deaths from coronavirus and positive tests have crept upwards slightly over the past week, after falling precipitously from their peak in January.
In a possible sign of the impact of the new Indian variant of Covid, positive tests over the week to 16 May were up 8.6 per cent on the previous seven days at 15,918, while deaths over the seven-day period were up 10.4 per cent at 74.
Cases continued to rise in Indian variant hotspots Bolton, Blackburn and Bedford.
DHSC said the government remains “on track” to offer a first dose of vaccine to all adults by the end of July.
Health secretary Matt Hancock said: “We have more great news about the vaccination rollout and are making extraordinary strides as 20 million people now have the fullest possible protection from this virus – huge thanks to the team for hitting this milestone.
“The latest real-world data has once again demonstrated how effective the vaccine is at providing life-saving protection, with two doses of the Pfizer vaccine providing 97 per cent protection against mortality.
“Receiving a second dose is vital to ensure you have the ultimate protection from this deadly virus – I encourage everyone to book their jab as soon as they are offered it.”