Nicola Sturgeon defends Scottish Covid-19 vaccine rollout amid questions over 400,000 unused doses

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First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has defended Scotland’s Covid-19 vaccine rollout after accusations of a “go-slow” from opposition parties as it emerged that over 400,000 doses allocated to Scotland have yet to be used.

Scotland has been allocated 717,000 doses of both vaccines, but has so far administered 268,689. It is understood that some proportion of the 717,000 remains at the vaccine distribution site in England.

Raising the point in the Scottish Parliament, Conservative MSP Ruth 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.

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“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.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon at Holyrood.First Minister Nicola Sturgeon at Holyrood.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon at Holyrood.

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

It comes as the British Medical Association complained of “supply issues” across Scotland, with doses not reaching doctors. Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie said: “Local people are very anxious and increasingly frustrated about the sluggish pace of the vaccination programme.

“Many are distressed that appointments have been cancelled because the GPs have run out of supplies.

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“Last week the Health Secretary admitted that 200,000 doses were stuck in storage in England. This week we discover that number may have doubled to 400,000.”

Ms Sturgeon accused the UK Government “briefing and spinning misleading figures”.

"Supplies are allocated to Scotland, they are then drawn down to Scotland and we vaccinate as quickly as we possibly can,” she said.

She added: “Last week we published detailed estimates of supply now and well into the future, we put that out in a document that went on the web and we circulated it.

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"I hope I’m not about to use unparliamentary language Presiding Officer, but the UK Government had something of what I can only describe as a hissy fit about us doing that, and we have agreed in consultation with them to take away the publication of those supply figures.

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"They don't want us to be open about supply for reasons of commercial confidentiality, and while I don't necessarily entirely agree with the reasoning behind that, we have agreed with their request.”

A senior UK Government source said last week that publication of supply details “risks suppliers coming under pressure from other countries.”

The British Medical Association welcomed a Labour Party debate due to be held in the Scottish Parliament tomorrow around vaccinating the health and social care workforce in Scotland.

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“We welcome the focus on Scotland’s vaccination programme – which is providing real hope of beating this pandemic,” said Dr Patricia Moultrie, Deputy Chair of BMA Scotland.

“It is clearly a huge challenge – and there must be an ongoing and unrelenting drive to get vaccines rolled out to the population. As we have made clear there have been issues with supply across Scotland.

"These are the early stages of the programme and as we move forward, we need them to be addressed so GPs can deliver vaccinations to their local populations.”

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