Britons should not get their second Covid vaccine after just four weeks, one of the Government's top advisers claimed today.
Ministers are keen to halve the gap between doses — which currently stands at eight weeks — amid surging cases.
But Professor Adam Finn, of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) — which advises No10 on the roll-out, has railed against the move.
He told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: 'I think we would need to be pretty careful about trying to change the approach right now in the middle of this third wave.'
Professor Finn warned giving second doses after just four weeks would likely offer people less protection against the disease in the future.Insurance Loans Mortgage Attorney Credit Lawyer
Studies have shown jabs made by AstraZeneca and Pfizer actually perform slightly better when spaced out for longer than a month.
This is because the longer gap leads to a better priming of the immune system to fight off the virus.
On the other hand, Professor Finn accepted that halving the gap to four weeks may 'pay off' if Britain's third wave keeps spiralling.
Professor Adam Finn, a top vaccines adviser, has said the gap between doses should not be slashed to four weeks because it could make jabs less effective
It comes as Department of Health data shows the inoculation drive is slowing amid a glut in demand for first doses
Nadhim Zahawi tried to quell a backlash from local leaders on plans to drop mandatory masks on public transport yesterday, after a poll found 50 per cent of Britons want 'Freedom Day' delayed.
The vaccines minister insisted people will still be 'expected' to wear coverings in confined spaces under new guidance being issued this week, even though the legal compulsion will go.
But he insisted that the unlocking schedule was set to go ahead as planned on July 19 - with Boris Johnson due to give more details at a press conference tonight.Insurance Loans Mortgage Attorney Credit Lawyer
'We're seeing a rise in infection rates in this country, but also in Europe and elsewhere. The difference for us is that the vaccination programme has been so successful,' Mr Zahawi said.
The comments came after Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham warned July 19 could turn into 'anxiety day', complaining that face coverings should remain a legal requirement.
Sadiq Khan is still considering a bid to force passengers to keep wearing masks on trains, Tube and buses in London.
Ministers, including newly-appointed Health Secretary Sajid Javid, fear the UK could see upwards of 100,000 cases a day by next month.
Originally, both AstraZeneca and Pfizer's vaccines were approved to be dished out in three-week intervals because that was the gap tested in the research trials.
But No10's scientists pushed the regimen back to 12 weeks to get wider protection in winter, when the second wave started to take off.
They said the decision would allow more people to