The Scottish Government has purchased 20 large fridges to store a potential Covid-19 vaccine, the First Minister has said.
Nicola Sturgeon said they would be placed at “strategic locations” around Scotland for to make sure the vaccine can be easily taken where it’s needed.
It was reported on Monday that the new Covid vaccine being developed by Pfizer needs to be kept at temperatures of minus 80C.
During a statement at Holyrood on Tuesday, Sturgeon said: “I think from memory we have purchased around 20 of these very large fridges that are capable of storing the vaccine at those very, very low temperatures.
“They will be situated in strategic locations across the country.
“There are then logistical issues in terms of getting the vaccines from the cold storage to where they need to be, and there are different temperatures that apply for short periods of time in that journey to the person being vaccinated, but all of these things are under very close and active consideration and deployment right now, including, I am pleased to say, the procurement of big fridges.”
Sturgeon went on to say she is confident Scotland’s health boards will be ready and able to deliver the vaccine when it becomes available.
The FM said the rollout of any potential vaccine will be “one of the biggest vaccination programmes that we have ever undertaken”.
Asked by Ruth Davidson how the “potential game-changer” can be administered “fairly and equitably across the country”, Sturgeon said the Scottish Government will set out more details of its plans in the coming weeks.
Responding to the Tory Holyrood leader, Sturgeon explained the rollout of any vaccine will be co-ordinated by the Scottish Government and implemented by the country’s 14 health boards.
She said: “The health secretary will, over the next period, set out much more detail of exactly how we will deploy the vaccine and the programme that will be in place to ensure that is delivered to priority groups across the whole of the country.
“In short, yes we are confident that health boards will be at a level of readiness to deliver that.
“There will be a nationally co-ordinated approach to that, although delivery will be health board-led.”
Priority for who is able to be vaccinated first will be guided by the UK Government’s Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation, Sturgeon said.
She added: “This is going to be one of the biggest vaccination programmes that we have ever undertaken – it will certainly be on a par to flu.
“Although, on the basis of the Pfizer vaccine, we would expect that people will need two doses three weeks apart so that are even more complicated logistics involved in this.”
While urging people to continue to follow the coronavirus guidance to reduce the potential spread of the disease, Sturgeon added: “Let’s not lose sight of the fact that this is good news.
“I don’t want to underplay the questions that are still to be answered about the efficacy of the vaccine, the prioritisation of it, how much immunity it may confer – the scientists are working hard on all of this.
“But I think for the first time in seven months we do have that very distinctive light at the end of the tunnel.
“Hope has been in short supply over these past few months so I think we should all enjoy it while we can.”
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