She was asked in the Scottish Government’s Covid-19 briefing on Tuesday why, given the risks associated with high case numbers and a more infectious variant of the virus now established in Scotland, she was not waiting for all Scots to have received a dose of the vaccine.
Around 60 per cent of Scots have received a jag, official data states, with the Scottish Government aiming to have vaccinated the adult population by the end of July.
The First Minister said: “We are opening up at the pace we think is right.
"This is not an exact science, it involves a lot of difficult judgements.
"I like to think most judgements we get overall right, but some judgements we might not at some moments. But we are trying to do it at a pace we think is sustainable so that we open up gradually in a way that allows people to get back to some sort of normality, but still keep this virus under control.”
Chief medical officer Gregor Smith also defended the decision, saying while the case rate in Scotland is higher now than in September when restrictions were reintroduced and when the country exited the first lockdown, the government’s testing regime meant the figures were not comparable.
He said many other factors, including the vaccination regime, meant clinicians believed the move to reopen was safe.
Dr Smith said: “We are case finding in a much more aggressive way than we ever did in the past because of the volume of asymptomatic testing that we are now able to do.
"We are actually able to remove much more infectious people from circulation with the ability to pass on that infection than we were able to do before, so those two measurements are not directly comparable.
"We have also got to remember that actually even with a case rate of 29 cases per 100,000, even if everything else was equal, it still wouldn’t be the same because we have got this wonderful vaccination programme just now which is offering protection particular to those who are most vulnerable to severe disease just now.”