Vaccines have prevented 44,500 people being hospitalised with coronavirus, Nadhim Zahawi has said.
The vaccines minister hailed the rollout of the jabs, also revealing that they have saved 14,000 lives, according to government figures.
The decision to delay the final easing of restrictions in England from June 21 to July 19 is also helping the NHS give more potentially vulnerable people their second vaccine dose, Zahawi added.
Two weeks ago, more than two million over-50s had not had a second dose of the jab – crucial to provide protection against the Delta variant.
But that number has been more than halved to 900,000, with some restrictions remaining in place.
Zahawi told a Downing Street press conference on Wednesday:
“Last week we took the difficult but I think essential decision to pause Step 4 in our road map for four weeks with a review of the data after two weeks – and we will absolutely have that review and share the data with the nation.
“This pause has saved thousands of lives and will continue to do so by allowing us to get more of the second doses into arms of those most vulnerable to Covid before the restrictions are eased further.”
He added: “We’re going to use these four weeks to give our NHS that bit more time so we can get those remaining jabs in arms of those who really do need them.”
The minister also hailed the government’s efforts at cutting vaccine hesitancy, particularly in ethnic minority communities.
Office for National Statistics (ONS) figures show vaccine hesitancy halving amongst Black, Black British, Asian and Asian British people since February, Zahawi said.
But he stressed there is “much more to do” and that the government was “intensifying” efforts to get vaccines rolled out in places like Bolton where uptake has been lower.