The Covid vaccine rollout has slowed to under half its peak speed despite Boris Johnson stressing the urgent need to jab as many people as possible to free Britain from lockdown.
The Prime Minister this week delayed Freedom Day from June 21 to July 19 to give the NHS a 'few more crucial weeks' to protect Britons from the Indian, or Delta, variant.
However, the UK administered just 368,555 vaccine doses on Monday – well under half the 844,285 it managed on a single day in March.
The Covid vaccine rollout (pictured: woman is given a vaccine in Cheshire) has slowed to under half its peak speed as Boris Johnson delayed Freedom Day from June 21 to July 19
The pace has slowed because of the decision by Government advisers to recommend alternatives to the Oxford/AstraZeneca jab for the under-40s and limited supply of the two alternatives – Pfizer and Moderna.
Ministers have conceded that the supply of the Pfizer jab is particularly 'tight' while the Moderna vaccine – which has only just become available – is thought to be similarly limited.
Government advisers recommended an alternative to the Oxford/AstraZeneca jab for under-40s after it was linked to fatal blood clots.
But this has hugely increased demand for the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines.
The UK administered just 368,555 Covid-19 vaccine doses on Monday (pictured: latest figures) well under half the 844,285 it managed on a single day in March
The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation currently has no plans to revise its guidance on the Oxford/AstraZeneca jab.
But sources said last night members may reconsider advice if the balance of benefits and risks changes, potentially as a result of a rapid surge in infections.
JUST 1 PER CENT OF BEDS TAKEN BY CORONA CASES
Thanks to vaccines, just one in 100 hospital beds is now taken by Covid-19 patients.
NHS England chief Sir Simon Stevens yesterday said jabs had 'flipped the age distribution'.
He said: 'Back in January, it was 60/40 – 60 per cent of beds occupied by people over 65, 40 per cent under 65.
'Now it has flipped to 30/70, so it's about 30 per cent occupied by people aged 65, and over 70 per cent by younger people whose [survival] prospects are much greater.'
There are 1,030 corona patients in hospital in England – down from a peak of 34,336 on January 18.
In further good news, Sir Simon said the NHS was 'gearing up' for the arrival of new Covid treatments, expected within 'several months'.
It is hoped the drugs – neutralising monoclonal antibodies – will cut hospital cases and deaths and reduce pressure on staff working to clear record waiting lists of five million patients.
A total of 79.4 per cent of adults have now received at least one dose of Covid vaccine and 57.4 per cent – more than 30million people – have been given both doses.
Yesterday NHS England chief executive Sir Simon Stevens said all over-18s in England would be able to book a jab by the end of the week.
However, he admitted: 'Vaccine supply continues to be constrained so we're pacing ourselves.'
It is thought many people may have to wait a fortnight to receive their vaccine.
Mr Johnson has set a target of offering all adults a first vaccine dose and two-thirds a second dose by July 19.
Professor Karol Sikora, a former World Health Organisation director, said: 'The Government needs to work hard to get the speed of the vaccination programme back to its peak level.
'It should be putting pressure on Pfizer and Moderna to increase supplies so we can quickly vaccinate ourselves out of lockdown.'
Dr Simon Clarke, of Reading University, said: 'It is more likely lockdown will end on July 19 if the UK can increase the number of people it is vaccinating each day.
'The Government needs to do all it can to maximise uptake as quickly as possible. There are plenty of people who want them.'
Meanwhile, London Mayor Sadiq Khan has lobbied vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi for an extra 367,000 doses of Pfizer and Moderna jabs.
London which has the lowest vaccination level of any UK region.