The Scottish Government could start publishing details of coronavirus vaccine supplies arriving in the country as early as next week – despite a previous outcry from the UK Government when numbers were made public.
Holyrood ministers were forced to change vaccination documents they had published online when the UK Government claimed setting out how many doses are expected and when could breach commercial confidentiality.
But with Nicola Sturgeon under fire about the vaccination rollout in Scotland, she said: “I think we will just go back to publishing the actual supply figures from next week, so that we all have transparency around that.”
Scottish Conservative Holyrood leader Ruth Davidson had challenged the First Minister on the “slow vaccination rate”, stressing there is “genuine concern across Scotland at the pace of the rollout”.
She claimed the Scottish Government has so far had “around one million vaccines available for use”, as she questioned whether doses are getting out to GPs quickly enough.
Ms Davidson said: “We’re six weeks into the vaccine delivery plan, we’re three weeks into the community rollout, and throughout that time GP after GP has been expressing their frustration at supply issues.”
Ms Sturgeon insisted “way more than half” of the doses allocated to Scotland have already been administered.
Speaking during First Minister’s Questions, she said: “We have allocations of doses, we draw those down, they come into health boards and go to GPs.
“Of the doses that have come into Scotland so far, more than half, way more than half, are already in the arms of people and the others will be going into the arms of people over the coming days.
“This allocation we have got, we have got to plan for how we use that to vaccinate all the groups we have prioritised within the timescales we have set.”
The First Minster also recalled that when her Government initially published the expected supply details, she had “the UK Government demanding we took that out of the public domain”.
But at the same time she said UK politicians were “quite happy to brief these figures through spin to the media”.
As a result of this, she added: “I have said to my officials regardless of what they say, I think we will just go back to publishing the actual supply figures from next week, so that we all have transparency around that.”
During his visit to Scotland on Thursday, the Prime Minister was asked about the possibility of more data being published.
He said: “We’re in favour of the maximum possible transparency that is compatible with security of supply.
“That’s the crucial thing, we’ve got to ensure we continue to have national security of supply.”
She insisted the vaccination programme is “going well” – with first doses now “effectively completed” for older residents in care homes, while all those aged over 80 should have had their first jag by the end of next week.
Ms Sturgeon said: “We have now virtually completed vaccination of care homes, around 95%. Given that in any cohort, particularly with frail older people, it is unlikely to reach 100%, we have effectively completed the vaccination of older residents in care homes. I think that is important.”
She also said she hopes Scotland will “exceed our targets” for the other groups now being vaccinated.
The First Minister told MSPs: “Around half a million people have now been vaccinated already in total, in terms of the over-80 population, that is now around 60% – perhaps slightly above 60%.
“That is now on track, well on track, for the target to be met of the end of next week, but I would anticipate based on the current pace of progress that the vast majority of over-80s will have been vaccinated with the first dose by the beginning of next week.”
Work will then begin to vaccinate those over 70, as well as those people classed as clinically extremely vulnerable – with this group due to have had their first doses by the middle of February.
Ms Sturgeon said: “What we are doing is building a vaccination programme that has pace, absolutely, but a sustainable pace where we are using the supplies that we have in a way that ensures we can meet, and if possible exceed, those targets.”