Nearly half a million people were given Covid vaccines in just 24 hours in a record-breaking day, latest data shows.
The Government said 478,248 people were given a first dose between Friday and today – the highest figure of the rollout so far.
It means the total number of people who have had a first dose of the vaccine now stands at 5.86 million.
And officials revealed that 468,617 people have received second doses – an increase of 1,821 on figures released the previous day.
It comes amid heightening pressure to reduce the 12-week gap between doses of the two vaccines currently available in the UK – manufactured by Pfizer and Oxford University/AstraZeneca.
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The government opted to increase the wait between jabs in order to give first doses to more people faster – but today it emerged the British Medical Association has called for this to be slashed in half.
The private letter, seen by the BBC, said the current plans of people waiting up to 12 weeks for a second dose – which Health Secretary Matt Hancock said is supported by data from an Israeli study – are “difficult to justify”.
It said: “The absence of any international support for the UK’s approach is a cause of deep concern and risks undermining public and the profession’s trust in the vaccination programme.”
However, Public Health England medical director Dr Yvonne Doyle has defended the decision, which she said had been taken on “public health and scientific advice”.
“The more people that are protected against this virus, the less opportunity it has to get the upper hand. Protecting more people is the right thing to do,” she told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme.
“People will get their second dose. As supplies become available more people will be vaccinated.
“It is a reasonable scientific balance on the basis of both supply and also protecting the most people.”
The UK’s Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation previously concluded the first dose delivers 89 per cent protection from day 10 after being administered.
However, initial data from a study led by Professor Ran Balicer in Israel found it may be as low as 33 per cent.
Israel is currently leading the way with its inoculation programme, having already given one in four of its population a jab, with a three-week gap between doses.
It comes as the UK’s Covid-19 death toll nears 100,000 following a further 1,348 fatalities.
There were 33,552 new cases of the virus recorded, a drop from the 40,261 reported on Friday.
Professor Sir Mark Walport, a former government chief scientific adviser and a member of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), said even stricter measures may be needed if cases do not continue falling “at pace”.
“Decisions are going to have to be made on the basis of the evidence,” he told BBC news.
“If the evidence shows that the decrease in cases isn’t continuing, then clearly policymakers will have to consider much tougher measures.”