Vaccine supply data to be kept secret after 'judgements' on workload from Scottish Government

Nicola Sturgeon has confirmed figures on the number of vaccines supplied to the Scottish Government for delivery to the population will not be published to reduce the workload on staff.

Asked whether vaccine supply data or the number of vaccinations by centre, such as GP surgeries or clinics, would be published, the First Minister said “judgements” had to made on what data could be immediately made public.

She said the workload of those at the frontline of the vaccination roll-out would be required to do additional hours of work to feed back data of delivered vaccines and that it would not be broken down beyond the daily total due to start being published next week.

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A nurse prepares a syringe with a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine. Picture: Fred Tanneau/AFP via Getty Images

In her briefing on Thursday, Ms Sturgeon said the difficulty of publishing vaccine supply data was due to the complexity of the vaccination programme and the requirement to hold back some of the supply.

She also accused the media of wanting the data to be able to publish negative front pages on the roll-out.

The decision means the public will only be told how many vaccines have been delivered and not how many are available, whether there are supply issues, or whether the roll-out could be quickened.

Uncertainty around supply of the Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccines means the Scottish Government is yet to set a firm target date for vulnerable groups to be vaccinated by.

The Scottish Government has said it will not publish vaccine supply data or data for vaccinations at clinics or GP surgeries.

Ms Sturgeon said: “If you cast your mind back to the start of the pandemic, there’s stuff published now that we didn’t publish at the start, there’s stuff we published at the start that we now publish on a much more granular basis.

"Just in the past couple of days Public Health Scotland are giving more information that allows case numbers to be broken down on a much more regional basis.

“So just because we start off on a certain level doesn’t mean we don’t build up overall.

"There will be some good reasons why certain information shouldn’t be published on a daily basis for all sorts of reasons.

"To be frank, you say surely Public Health Scotland gathers it. For Public Health Scotland to hold any information it has to then gather it from the people doing the particular activity and that is something that then takes those people away from the activity that they are doing to gather and feed in the information.

"Information is really important, transparency and reporting is really important, but as the person in overall charge of making sure this response is doing everything it has to do, we have judgements to make about the number of hours in every given day that we’re asking people to gather data, report data, versus what we are expecting them to do.

"We will continue to try to reach those judgements properly, we’ll start with daily reporting of vaccinations next week, the weekly reports will get more detailed and we’ll no doubt build on that from there as the programme gets up and running.”

More than 100,000 people have received their first dose of a Covid-19 vaccine in Scotland since they began being rolled out before Christmas.

Around 2.5 million people on the clinically vulnerable priority list are hoped to be vaccinated by spring.

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