Swinney: I do not understand ‘the fuss’ over vaccine passports

Deputy first minister tells Covid-19 Recovery Committee the scheme is a 'completely reasonable request for us to make'.

Swinney: I do not understand ‘the fuss’ over vaccine passports Craig Williamson via SNS Group
Football fans having their vaccine passports checked at Tynecastle in Edinburgh.

John Swinney has said he doesn’t understand “the fuss” around vaccine passports.

Speaking before the Covid-19 Recovery Committee on Thursday, the deputy first minister said: “The vaccine certification scheme works well.

“I fail to understand what the fuss is about it. I think it’s a completely reasonable request for us to make.”

Swinney’s comments come after new guidance was announced on Tuesday, stipulating that organisers of large events of 1000 or more people should check the vaccine passport status of at least 50% of attendees, rather than the current 20%.

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Furthermore, from Monday the definition of “fully vaccinated” will include having a booster if a second dose of coronavirus vaccine was received more than four months ago.

The vaccine passport system was implemented in October, with Scots being asked to show proof of full vaccination through an app or paper record to access nightclubs or large events such as football matches.

The scheme was met with criticism from opposition politicians and venues that would be impacted, who railed against logistical difficulties in implementation.

Swinney added: “When you have a system in place that involves over 10 million individual vaccinations, there’s bound to be teething issues on certain vaccine certificates and I’ve made it clear that ministers will help to resolve any issues.”

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Swinney, who is also the Covid recovery secretary, would not be drawn on any future expansion of the scheme to include more venues, something First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said on Tuesday was still under consideration by ministers.

Meanwhile, the national clinical director, Professor Jason Leitch, said he did not understand the push for more data on people who have been hospitalised because of the effects of the virus.

The figures were released on Friday by Public Health Scotland, after calls from opposition politicians, in an effort to better understand the severity of the new Omicron variant.

The analysis showed that as much as 60% of the positive cases reported in hospital in Greater Glasgow and Clyde on January 1 and 2 and Grampian between December 30 and January 4 were in hospital because of the virus.

But Leitch said the drive amounted to a “slight misunderstanding of how healthcare works”.

“I don’t know what the fascination with this data is – you have all the data we have,” he told Tory MSP, Murdo Fraser.

“It speaks to, if you forgive me, a slight misunderstanding of how healthcare works. Healthcare is not a single disease. The people in hospital with Covid, who are in trouble, don’t just have Covid.

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“They have diabetes, they have leukaemia, they’re 87, there are all kinds of things going on.”

He added: “I am not as convinced that this data is as important as some think, because healthcare is not linear, there are very few people in who are having their leg fixed because they fell over on the ice who get a positive Covid test – there will be some of course – but the vast majority getting care in our hospitals with a Covid test are getting it because they have Covid and they’ve got other things going on as well.”