Leitch: Vaccine wastage likely to be below five per cent

Professor Leitch made the comments as Covid-19 vaccines are scaled up around the country,

Leitch: Vaccine wastage likely to be below five per cent Getty Images
Vaccine: Aims to for wastage to be lower than five per cent.

Wastage levels for the coronavirus vaccine are likely to be lower than five per cent, Scotland’s national clinical director has said, though the figure remains in Government documents for “planning purposes”.

Professor Jason Leitch said officials “absolutely hope” to get wastage levels below five per cent as Covid-19 vaccinations are scaled up around the country.

Scotland’s vaccine delivery plan, which was published on Wednesday evening, included a working assumption of five per cent wastage – where the vaccine goes unused.

Prof Leitch was asked about the plan at the Scottish Parliament’s Covid-19 Committee on Thursday morning.

He said: “We have a rounded figure of around five per cent for wastage – that’s what we use for the flu vaccine, that’s what the WHO (World Health Organisation) says is the rough global average.

“It’s difficult to be sure, of course. I would absolutely hope we would get it down below that.

“In the flu vaccine, we do get it significantly below that, but for planning purposes it is traditional to talk about a five per cent wastage.”

He said wastage could occur for a number of reasons, including the seal on a vial being broken or human error in drawing it into the syringe – events he said are “rare but possible”.

In the health service, he said, if staff like ICU nurses cannot make their vaccination appointment due to work commitments, that dose can instead be given to other workers such as clerks to prevent wastage.

Prof Leitch said he hopes wastage will be kept to an “absolute minimum”.

The national clinical director was also asked about people who want to volunteer their services to the vaccination rollout.

He said so far, 4000 people have been trained as vaccinators, adding: “We do not need mass volunteering at this stage of the vaccination programme.”