The UK has recorded 178 more COVID-related deaths and 38,154 new cases in the latest 24-hour period, according to government data.
On Wednesday, 207 fatalities were reported – the highest daily figure since 9 March.
Meanwhile, a further 44,088 people have received the first dose of a coronavirus vaccine, bringing the total number of people who have received at least one dose to more than 48 million.
Almost 80% of over-16s (more than 43 million people) are fully vaccinated after 113,385 second doses were administered yesterday.
A new study from King’s College London has found that adults who are fully vaccinated are 47% less likely to develop long COVID should they contract the infection.
The study analysed data from more than two million people who logged their symptoms, tests, and vaccine status on the Zoe COVID Symptom Study app between 8 December 2020 and 4 July 2021.
Some 6,030 app users reported testing positive for COVID-19 at least 14 days after their first vaccination, but before their second, while 2,370 reported testing positive at least seven days after their second dose.
The research, published in the Lancet, said: “We found that the odds of having symptoms for 28 days or more after post-vaccination infection were approximately halved by having two vaccine doses.
“This result suggests that the risk of long COVID is reduced in individuals who have received double vaccination, when additionally considering the already documented reduced risk of infection overall.”
Ahead of schools re-opening, Education Secretary Gavin Williamson has insisted children must return to a “normal pre-pandemic” experience, despite the risk of an increase in coronavirus cases.
Mr Williamson said testing would be key to guarding against a rising infection rate, but refused to outline what the government’s “contingency plan” for other potential measures might involve.
Elsewhere, a COP26 spokesperson has said that the UK is “on track” to vaccinate all attendees who need it ahead of November’s United Nations climate change summit in Glasgow.
As host, the UK pledged to provide COVID-19 vaccines to any country representatives, media, or observers who would not otherwise have access in time.
So far, 27% of the world’s population has been fully vaccinated.