What do we know about the Covid-19 vaccine roll-out in Scotland?

Vaccination of the public and vulnerable people from Covid-19 in Scotland is well underway, but information on when the Scottish Government expects vaccines to reach all of the population remains thin on the ground.

Due to the new, highly transmissable strain of Covid-19, the battle against the virus is now being cast as a race. Who will win – the virus or the vaccinators?

However, such is the uncertainty on vaccine supply, the Scottish Government has yet to place a firm target on when different groups will be vaccinated by, with previous targets already having slipped.

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What do we know?

A bottle of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine against Covid-19. Picture: Sean Gallup - Pool/Getty Images
A bottle of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine against Covid-19. Picture: Sean Gallup - Pool/Getty Images

Both the Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccines are being rolled out across Scotland, with vaccinations following the priority list from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI).

To date, “well over 100,000 people” have received the first dose of a vaccine, Nicola Sturgeon told Holyrood when announcing the fresh Stay At Home lockdown on Monday.

Both vaccines are safe, have regulatory approval, have minor and rare side-effects and offer high levels of protection to those who receive them.

Those vaccinated will receive their second dose – crucial for the duration and efficacy of protection – within 12 weeks of their first, a move justified as being necessary to ensure as many people as possible have some protection against Covid-19.

What do we know about the vaccine roll-out in Scotland?

Scotland will receive 8.2 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine (8.2 per cent of the 100 million ordered by the UK Government), with 900,000 available by the end of January, according to the First Minister – double the amount previously stated by chief medical officer Dr Gregor Smith on New Year’s Day.

The UK Government has ordered 40 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine.

How many people have been vaccinated per week?

We don’t know and the Scottish Government is yet to release such data. The only available figures are provided through statements to the Scottish Parliament.

How many people need or are expected to be vaccinated?

We don’t know, but can assume most adults will get a vaccine.

In response to a Freedom of Information request, the Scottish Government was unable to say how many vaccines would be needed to suppress the virus nationally or broken down by health board.

Despite being asked the number of individuals who are expected to receive the vaccine by July 2021, the Scottish Government would not add any further detail beyond the JCVI priority list.

In total, 4.4 million people over the age of 18 will be eligible for the vaccine.

How fast will the roll-out be?

We don’t know and it is dependent on vaccine supply.

The Scottish Government said initially in November that one million people would be vaccinated by the end of January, with all adult Scots to be offered one by spring, but that target is unlikely to be met.

Instead, 2.5 million people – the entire JCVI priority list – is the plan, but only “by early May”, the First Minister said.

Vaccine purchase is done by the UK Government on behalf of all four nations, meaning the speed of the roll-out is dependent on that process.

However, the decision to delay the second dose of the vaccine should speed up the roll-out.

It means fewer doses will be kept in storage to ensure second doses can be delivered.

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