Expert urges Scotland to ‘hold out’ with vaccine on horizon

Professor Devi Sridhar said a 'new era' is coming, after trials showed candidates had high effectiveness.

By Gordon Chree and Jack Thomson

A public health expert has urged people in Scotland to “hold out” over winter with a coronavirus vaccine on the horizon.

Professor Devi Sridhar, of Edinburgh University, said a “new era” is coming, after trials showed several candidates had high effectiveness.

A national plan is already being developed to distribute a vaccine in Scotland, following confirmation that Pfizer’s vaccine is more than 90% effective. Meanwhile, interim data from Moderna suggested its jab is 94.5% effective.

With 11 council areas facing the toughest level four restrictions from Friday, Prof Sridhar said the next few months would be “tough”.

But she said: “We’re heading into Christmas, winter season, and the thing I would say actually is just to hold out.

“There’s a new era coming, with vaccines, therapies, treatments, testing so I’d tell people why get infected now if you could delay this. In a few months actually, we’ll have fewer hospitalisations and fewer deaths.”

Prof Sridhar, who is on the Scottish Government’s Covid-19 advisory group, said the virus spreads through people coming together and close contact, “usually indoors in crowded settings”.

She encouraged people to “get outside”, adding it was “much safer”, but also expressed optimism about the arrival of a vaccine in the coming months.

She said: “Outside is so much safer to socialise, to exercise, to see others. You can still have a really fulfilling time, even in dark Scottish winter, if you get outside. It’s much safer, that’s what we’ve learned.

“I’m really optimistic because it’s not just one, it’s quite a few.

“There’s a Pfizer vaccine, Moderna came out with very high effectiveness, there’s AstraZeneca, so these seem to be working.

“We didn’t know six months ago if we’d even have a vaccine for coronavirus. We’ve never had one in the past and now we have several.”

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