The UK has now surpassed Israel, a long-time leader in Covid vaccination, with a higher percentage of Britons now having received a first dose.

Britain, which overtook Israel on Wednesday, has given a first dose of the vaccine to 64 per cent of its population, including more than 80 per cent of all adults. This compares to 63.7 per cent of Israelis who have had their initial dose. 

A further 207,647 first doses were administered in the UK on Thursday, and appointments have been available to all over-18s since last week.

This means 31.9 million Britons have now had both doses, which accounts for more than three-fifths of all adults.

Nadhim Zahawi, the vaccines minister, said the four-week delay in the UK’s lockdown lifting will be used "to get as many people protected and to protect them as quickly as we can". 

Ministers plan to use walk-in centres, football stadia and "jabs buses" to administer as many doses as possible in the next three and a half weeks.

Israel remains ahead in terms of full vaccination, which real-world data has shown is significantly more effective against the Indian or delta Covid variant.

Share of the population fully vaccinated against COVID-19 (Israel Vs UK)

In Israel, 59.6 per cent of the population has had a second dose of a Covid vaccine. In the UK, this stands at 46.7 per cent, as 31.9 million Britons have now had their second dose.

Health officials believe the delta variant now makes up 70 per cent of all cases in Israel, according to domestic reports. The town of Binyamina, near Haifa, became the country’s first "red" location for several months, after the appearance of 122 active cases, reflecting a nationwide surge in infections.

Dr Sharon Alroy-Preis, Israel’s director of public health, said she believes nationwide restrictions making it compulsory to wear masks indoors will be brought back as soon as Sunday.

Israel this week moved to reintroduce legislation that means face coverings are once again compulsory at airports, hospitals and health clinics.

The UK’s vaccine rollout began on Dec 8 last year, with 91-year-old Margaret Keenan becoming the first Briton to receive a Pfizer jab.

Israel began its mass vaccination programme on Dec 20 after purchasing a substantial number of doses and initially prioritised the over-60s.

By the end of last year, Israel had administered more vaccine doses than all countries except for China, the US and the UK, and led the world for the highest number of doses given out per 100 people.