The current coronavirus lockdown has “got to be the last” as another one would be “devastating”, Anas Sarwar has said.
The Scottish Labour leader said he supported the “cautious” route out of lockdown but the Government should be open-minded about changing pace.
He met with vaccinators outside the Edinburgh International Conference Centre, where he thanked them for their work over the past months.
Mr Sarwar also called for further investment in medical science amid concerns the coronavirus pandemic is affecting research into other illnesses.
He told the PA news agency: “I support the framework we have just now but we should be open-minded about slowing down if the data starts going the wrong way or accelerating if the data is going the right way.
“I think we have to have a flexibility – keep hope and optimism in the country but also have a cautious approach so we don’t have another spike in cases which takes us back into another lockdown.
“This has got to be the last lockdown, we cannot have another lockdown because it would have devastating consequences on our economy, our health and particularly the wellbeing of our young people.
“I think it’s right that we take this cautious approach.”
He said vaccination was part of the route out of lockdown but more emphasis should be put on the testing and tracing programme.
As part of the party’s NHS recovery plan, Scottish Labour has said it will work closely with the research community to ensure medical studies and clinical trials are properly supported.
The Institute for Public Policy Research has previously warned that £7.8 billion in UK research funding could be lost due to the impact of the pandemic in the coming years, partly due to the loss of charity fundraising.