Scottish Government withdraws vaccine rollout plan after concerns over 'sensitive' information

Nicola Sturgeon has revealed Scotland's vaccine plan has “been temporarily taken off” the Scottish Government website after the UK Government raised concerns about sensitive information in the document on the projected supply of vaccines.

She said while the government had sought to be “transparent” on its targets for rolling out the vaccine, the UK Government had “commercial confidentiality” concerns about what was published.

The 16-page document was made public on the government’s website yesterday at 8pm, but has now been removed.

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It explained how the government hoped to vaccinate 4.5 million Scots as quickly as possible with intended timescales, numbers of vaccines, and details of the distributor. Overall, it said the government planned to vaccinate 400,000 each week from the end of February.

The Scottish Government has withdrawn its published vaccination plan.
The Scottish Government has withdrawn its published vaccination plan.

However a UK Government source told the Press Association that the document had to be pulled because it gave too much information: “The reason we didn't want to publish these figures was because everyone in the world wants these vaccines, and if other countries see how much we are getting they are likely to put pressure on the drug firms to give them some of our allocation.”

At her daily Covid briefing Ms Sturgeon said she was not “convinced” about the UK Government's concerns but added: “It (the vaccine deployment plan) has temporarily been taken off the website, the UK Government has raised concerns about the level of information we included in that on the projected supply of vaccine.

“We were seeking to be, I think it is important, to be very transparent around all aspects of this, to be clear on the targets we are setting for the numbers of people vaccinated and then to give people as much assurance as we can, subject to all the caveats that we still have to put in place about the supply flows that we are expecting.”

Scottish Conservative health spokesman, Donald Cameron MSP, said the withdrawal of the plan was the “second serious error by SNP ministers in the space of 24 hours”, pointing to the revelation by Health Secretary Jeane Freeman of a secret vaccine storage location.

“Now, they’ve had to pull a whole vaccination plan out of sheer incompetence,” he said. “These mistakes potentially endanger supplies and risk impacting the rollout of the vaccine.

“We all want the delivery of the vaccine to succeed but these entirely avoidable mistakes suggest the SNP are running about like headless chickens behind the scenes. We need to see a blunder-free vaccine plan from the SNP Government as soon as possible.”

Scottish Liberal Democrat health spokesperson Alex Cole-Hamilton also criticised the “series of blunders”.

He said: “Our national mission right now should be getting jabs into arms. Instead, we are dealing with the fallout from clumsy and avoidable errors. This will do nothing for public confidence or the security of the vaccination process.

“Yesterday it was revealed that 200,000 doses destined for Scotland were still in storage in England. Routinely publishing how many doses are on hand would help to give the public a better sense of the logistics involved in rolling out the vaccine and drive the government to get them to those in need as swiftly as possible."

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