Britain hit a record high of daily coronavirus deaths as the toll mounts in the latest phase of the winter spread of the highly transmissible pathogen.
It was the second consecutive day that the toll reached new highs. Data showed on Wednesday that 1,820 people died within 28 days of a positive coronavirus test, up from the 1,610 deaths reported on Tuesday, which in turn broke the record of 1,564 set last week.
There were 38,905 new infection cases recorded on Wednesday, up from 33,355 a day earlier. The total number of people who have died within 28 days of a positive test in the U.K. to 93,290. Almost 40,000 patients are now receiving treatment in British hospitals.
Following the release of the statistics, Prime Minister Boris Johnson warned the country is in a "race against time" to vaccinate the vulnerable.
"I must warn people there will be tough weeks to come, but as the vaccine goes in and that programme accelerates, there will be, I think, a real difference by spring," he said.
Britain has administered more than 4.6 million people doses COVID-19 vaccines so far.
Patrick Vallance, the government's chief scientific adviser, warned the ordeal and restrictions on movement would endure with some British hospitals resembling a "war zone" due to the influx of coronavirus patients. "The numbers are nowhere near where they need to be at the moment, they need to come down quite a lot further -- we need to make sure we stick with it," he said.
The British government is considering vaccinating people more likely to spread coronavirus rather than targeting older, more vulnerable groups.
Teachers, police officers and other frontline workers could be prioritised.
The official Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation, which advises UK health departments on immunisation, lists “first responders, the military, those involved in the justice system, teachers, transport workers and public servants essential to the pandemic response” as those who should be inoculated.
The government is banking on its vaccination drive to try to return life to normality. As the programme was launched in December, the infection rate also took off.
Britain's mortality rate has risen nearly 15 per cent over the past week, as surging infection rates throughout December have now fed into increasing hospital admissions and deaths.
The B117 coronavirus variant, first reported in the UK and ripping through the country, has been found in at least 60 countries.
Both the UK mutation and another variant first seen in South Africa are believed to be up to 70 per cent more transmissible than early strains.