UK Health Secretary Sajid Javid has apologised for a "poor choice of word" after suggesting Britain must not "cower" from coronavirus.
Javid said on Saturday he had made a "full recovery" after his recent positive Covid test, and that his "symptoms were very mild, thanks to amazing vaccines", of which he had received two doses.
"Please, if you haven't yet, get your jab, as we learn to live with, rather than cower from, this virus," he wrote on Twitter, in a post since deleted.
The remark sparked an immediate backlash from bereaved families and opposition MPs, who branded it insulting to people who had shielded and those who stayed at home during lockdowns.
Jo Goodman, of the Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice group, said Javid's comments were "deeply insensitive on a number of levels... implying our loved ones were too cowardly to fight the virus".
But in an apology statement on Sunday, Javid said: "I was expressing gratitude that the vaccines help us fight back as a society, but it was a poor choice of word and I sincerely apologise.
"Like many, I have lost loved ones to this awful virus and would never minimise its impact."
A further 29,173 Covid-19 cases have been reported in the UK on Sunday, Government data shows, meaning the daily figure has dropped for the fifth day in a row.
The seven-day figure of new infections is down 15.4 per cent.
Another 28 deaths within 28 days of a positive Covid test were reported as of Sunday, as the vaccine continues to show signs of weakening the link between infection, serious illness and death.
There have now been a total of 46,563,452 first doses of a vaccine administered and 37,160,659 second doses.
It means Britain has passed another milestone in its vaccine rollout of more than 70 per cent of adults receiving both jabs, and 88 per cent receiving a first dose.