Coronavirus in Scotland: Scotland removes Covid-19 vaccine supply data from rollout plan after UK Government concerns

The Scottish Government’s Covid-19 vaccine deployment plan has been re-published, two pages shorter, after it was taken down following UK Government concerns over sensitive vaccine supply data.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson looks on after nurse Rebecca Cathersides administered the Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine to Lyn Wheeler at Guy's Hospital in London.

Information around the stock of Covid-19 vaccines expected to be delivered to Scotland in the next five months has been removed.

The detailed breakdown of expected stock deliveries of Pfizer, AstraZeneca and Moderna vaccine each week until the end of May was the first time the Scottish Government had revealed its expected supply, despite repeated questioning from journalists.

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But the plan, published on Wednesday, was shortly taken down by the Scottish Government following concern from the UK Government about “commercial confidentiality” over dose supply.

The supply figures are understood to have angered ministers in London, who said publication could lead to vaccine manufacturers coming under pressure from other countries to divert excess UK supply elsewhere.

Speaking at the coronavirus update briefing on Thursday, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said: “The UK Government have raised concerns about the level of information we included in that on the projected supply of vaccine.

“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.”

She continued: “The UK Government has got some commercial confidentiality concerns about that so we’re having a discussion with them about what can be published.”

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Nicola Sturgeon told to keep vaccine supply secret by UK Government amid concern...

Ms Sturgeon said she was “not convinced” by the argument against publication.

“The UK Government have been talking for a long time about the supplies that they have managed to secure so, you know, these are estimates of the supplies that have been secured,” she said.

“So I’m not convinced, but I think it would be for UK Government ministers to talk more about the basis of their concern.”

A senior UK Government source told the PA news agency: “Publication of numbers like these risks suppliers coming under pressure from other countries.

“These vaccines are a finite resource and as we have said throughout – supply is the limiting step.”

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon confirmed last week that she had been briefed by UK Government ministers to keep supply numbers “a little bit circumspect”, but added that she wanted to be “as transparent as possible” on numbers.

"I think it is important that we are as transparent as possible, but equally of course it's just a statement of the fact that we are in a global supply chain for vaccines and therefore those who are doing the procurement will perhaps want to bear that in mind,” she said.

The UK has vaccinated a higher percentage of its population than any other country apart from Israel.

About five per cent of the UK has been given a first dose, compared to nearly a quarter of Israelis. The most doses have been administered in the US, more than 10 million, although this represents less than four per cent of the population.

The UK was the first country in Europe to begin vaccination, and has steamed far ahead, with more than three million doses given compared to just under a million in Italy and around 900,000 in Germany.

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