A dip in supply will not affect the target to give all adults in Scotland a first dose of the vaccine by the end of July, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has said.
A shipment of the AstraZeneca jab from India has encountered problems with the head of the Serum Institute of India (SII) suggesting the country’s government may be blocking exports to the UK.
The Scottish Government has said that people in the Joint Committee on Vaccinations and Immunisations (JCVI) priority groups will be offered a vaccine by the middle of April, while an offer of a first dose will be made to the whole adult population by the end of July.
Speaking before First Minister’s Questions on Thursday, Nicola Sturgeon said there would be approximately 500,000 fewer doses coming to Scotland in the next month.
“At present we expect that over the next month we will have approximately 500,000 fewer doses than we had previously anticipated,” she said.
“For that reason there may be periods in April where we need to prioritise second doses.
“However, I want to be clear today that we do still expect to offer a first dose of the vaccine to the remaining JCVI priority groups by the middle of next month as planned. We also still expect to have offered a first dose to all adults in the population by the end of July.”
Ms Sturgeon’s assertions were backed up by the National Clinical Director, Professor Jason Leitch, who appeared at Holyrood’s Covid-19 committee on Thursday.
While Prof Leitch said this would have a proportionate effect on Scotland, it would not impact on targets to vaccinate all priority groups by mid-April or all adults by the end of July.
He said: “Our present understanding is we can still meet the mid-April offer for the first nine groups of a vaccine and we can still meet our end of July target for the whole adult population.”
However, more thought will have to be given about how the rollout continues after the April target, Prof Leitch said.
“It will inevitably mean that after the top nine, we will just have to think about who comes next and when they come next.”
There should also not be an effect on second doses, Prof Leitch said, because most of the second jabs due will be Pfizer vaccine.
He added: “The other important thing is there is no suggestion from either company that the end point number is any different, it’s about the lumpiness of the supply, not about the total supply.
“It’s not that we’re suddenly not going to get five million doses, it’s that the five million doses are going to come in slightly lumpier form than expected.
“We’re as confident as we can be today, that of course could change, and we need to keep the modelling under daily review and we have teams of people doing that following yesterday’s news in particular.”
Scotland has recorded seven deaths from coronavirus and 624 positive tests in the past 24 hours, Ms Sturgeon also told MSPs.
This brings the death toll under this measure – of people who first tested positive for the virus within the previous 28 days – to 7,536.
The daily test positivity rate is 2.7%, down from 3% on Wednesday.
There are 405 people in hospital confirmed to have the virus, down 17 in 24 hours, and 38 patients are in intensive care, no change on the previous day.
More than 2.2 million people have been given a first dose of the vaccine in Scotland – 2,023,002 as of 8.30am on Thursday, up 41,184 in 24 hours.
A total of 192,100 have had a second dose, up 10,221.