Nicola Sturgeon says Scottish vaccine supply 'not being diverted to south of England'

Scotland’s vaccine supplies are not being diverted back to England to help speed up the slower vaccination rates in parts of the south, Nicola Sturgeon has said.

The comments come after The Yorkshire Post revealed parts of the north of England are being “punished” for the speed of their roll-out.

The newspaper reported that supplies of vaccines initially bound for the county had been rerouted south to help areas lagging behind speed up, a story confirmed by NHS figures on Friday morning.

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Scotland is facing pressure to explain why it is lagging behind on the number of vaccinations delivered to date, with the Scottish Government stating the prioritisation of care homes meant community-based delivery of the Covid-19 vaccine was slower than in England.

Nicola Sturgeon has said vaccine supply is not being diverted away from Scotland to help with areas lagging behind in England.

Speaking at her daily Covid-19 briefing, the First Minister said that “to the best of her knowledge” no vaccines bound for Scotland were being redirected to the south of England.

Ms Sturgeon said there were no plans for the same tactic to be used by the Scottish Government if health boards such as those in rural areas began to lag behind on vaccinations when compared to the Central Belt.

She said: “No, to the best of my knowledge if the UK Government is taking supplies away from the areas that are further ahead in the vaccine to give them to areas that are further behind, to the best of my knowledge that is not affecting Scotland.

"In Scotland we will continue to distribute the vaccine equitably so that we are not having postcode lotteries.

"We will continue to make sure there is an equitable allocation of the supplies of the vaccine that we have.”

The First Minister was also challenged on official figures published on Friday that showed Scotland was lagging behind significantly in vaccinating over-80s.

Official figures show that just 13.1 per cent of over-80s in Scotland had been vaccinated, well behind the average for those in England of 56.3 per cent.

In response, Ms Sturgeon claimed the figures were “inaccurate” and said management figures showed that as of 8:30am on Friday, 34 per cent of over-80s had been vaccinated.

She was also challenged on the fact several ‘community vaccination centres’ across Scotland such as town halls, concert halls and schools have yet to open and are not expected to do so until February.

The First Minister said: “We deliberately started in care homes for reasons we set out.

"We are pretty much finished that now and therefore what we see is the over-80s population in the community picking up pace.

"The figure I’ve given you today is about five percentage points [higher] than it was yesterday and it will continue to grow.

"We are all working to the same targets. We have set the target of all over-80s having been given their first dose by the fifth of February and we are on track to do that.

"We’ll continue to pick up pace as the supplies grow, so to will the different settings and the scale and the size of the settings that deliver the vaccine.”

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