Sturgeon challenged over speed of Covid vaccine rollout

Tories claim 400,000 doses are available but have not yet been given to patients.

Sturgeon challenged over speed of Covid vaccine rollout Getty Images

More than 400,000 doses of the coronavirus vaccine have yet to be given to patients despite having arrived in Scotland, the Tories have claimed.

Scottish Conservative Holyrood leader Ruth Davidson said so far the Scottish Government had received 717,000 doses of both the Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccines – but claimed crucially that well over half of these had not yet been used.

She challenged the First Minister on the issue as Nicola Sturgeon announced that Scotland’s lockdown would continue until the middle of February at least.

Sturgeon also insisted that Scotland was not behind target in vaccinating people – as she accused the UK Government of “briefing and spinning misleading figures on supply”.

The First Minister said: “Supplies are allocated to Scotland, they are then drawn down to Scotland, and we vaccinate as quickly as we possibly can.

“That will continue to be the case.

“In terms of the doses that are in Scotland, many of them have already been put into people’s arms.”

The First Minister went on to hit out at the UK Government, saying: “We last week published detailed estimates of supply, now and well into the future.

“We put that out in a document that went on the web and was circulated. The UK Government had something of what I can only describe as a hissy fit about us doing that.

“They don’t want us to be open about supply, for reasons of commercial confidentiality.”

Davidson said: “As of yesterday, the Scottish Government had taken receipt of 717,000 doses of the vaccine. More than 400,000 have yet to reach patients.

“We know how many doses of vaccine have so far been delivered to Scotland, we know how many GP practices have agreed to take part in the process. The GPs know who their patients are and they know how to contact them.

“The only thing that’s missing is for too many practices across Scotland they have not yet actually received any supplies.”

Scottish Labour interim leader Jackie Baillie also questioned her on vaccination targets.

She demanded to know if Ms Sturgeon was confident all those over 80 in Scotland would have been given their first dose of the vaccine by February, saying efforts needed to be made to “ramp up the programme” to achieve this.

The First Minister said she was confident that would be achieved.

“We’re already vaccinating at the rate of more than 100,000 a week,” she told MSPs.

“I am confident that, supplies permitting, we will meet the targets we have set after that.”

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie also challenged the First Minister, saying: “Last week the Health Secretary admitted that 200,000 doses of the vaccine were in storage in England.

“This week we hear that could have doubled to 400,000 and I’ve heard today that GP practices in Fife are cancelling vaccine appointments because they’ve run out of the vaccine.”

Sturgeon told him while she did “not underestimate the ongoing challenges” of the vaccination campaign, she insisted: “I don’t think it would be right to say that the programme is not progressing well.”

Her comments came after she told Holyrood that “pace of progress” in vaccinating Scots aged over 80 was “now picking up”.

The First Minister added Scotland was “on track” for everyone in this age group to have had at least one injection by the start of February.

She continued: “By the middle of February, we expect to have completed first doses for all over 70s, and for all those who are clinically extremely vulnerable.

“People in these groups will start to receive appointments for February in the coming days.”

It is then hoped all those aged 65 and above will receive their first doses of the vaccine by the start of March, while everyone on the priority list set out by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation should have had at least one injection by early May

“That means that in around three months’ time, around three million people in total will have received at least the first dose of the vaccine,” she said.

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