Covid: Scotland must be able to produce own vaccines, says SNP

Scotland must be able to produce the vaccines needed by its own population, the SNP has said.

A resolution calling for domestic vaccine hubs to “safeguard Scotland’s own population” has been passed by the party’s conference.

It also recommended the establishment of a Scottish scientific panel to advise the Scottish Government and Scottish Parliament on existing and emerging virus threats.

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Proposing the resolution, delegate David Maxwell highlighted the UK Government’s cancellation of a 100 million dose order from Valneva, the only company manufacturing Covid-19 vaccines in Scotland.

Boris Johnson visits the Valneva Covid-19 vaccine manufacturing plant in Livingston. Photo by Wattie Cheung-WPA Pool/Getty Images

The establishment of regional vaccine manufacturing hubs would also shorten supply chains and reduce the risk of vaccine wastage, he added.

He said: “Geographically, Scotland as well-suited to regional vaccine manufacturing hubs. Our regional health services follow a natural geographic model, and the siting of such hubs within these regions would shorten and strengthen supply chains with the production of the vaccines much closer to the sites and administration.

“It has been obvious to all during the initial phases of vaccine rollout during the Covid pandemic that vaccine distribution from a centralised production location, sometimes not within the UK, was a huge logistical challenge with a high risk of vaccine wastage.”

Co-proposer Lynne Copland said: “Without a programme of regional, accessible vaccine vaccination centres across Scotland, the virus and its variants would continue to put everyone's health at risk.

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“We need to act now to ensure that vaccines play a vital role in defending our Scottish health service and our population.”

Additional vaccine produced in Scotland should be sent to developing countries, Ms Copland said.

“We cannot return to where we were at the beginning of the pandemic,” she said.

"Our first minister has been urged to bring more pressure to bear on vaccine nationalism.

“What better way to lead by example by establishing manufacturing hubs and sending surplus vaccine to those countries not equipped to produce it themselves.”

Officials at French vaccine manufacturer Valneva have met with Nicola Sturgeon since the UK Government cancelled its order in September to discuss direct supply to Scotland in future.

The Scottish Government has said it will continue to engage with the company on a regular basis.

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