Covid vaccine first doses 'squeezed' over supply as record lows recorded

Covid vaccine supply for first doses has been “squeezed” recently over a drop in supply, chief medical officer Gregor Smith said, as Scotland recorded its lowest daily first dose figures this week.

Some 2,500 first doses were given on Wednesday, just slightly more than the all-time low of 2,350 the day before.

Daily figures have dropped by around 10,000 compared to last week.

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It comes as continued pressure on vaccine supply in Scotland has seen priority given to second doses, with the yet-to-be vaccinated taking a back seat.

Health and social care staff wait in the rest area after receiving their coronavirus vaccines at the NHS Louisa Jordan Hospital in Glasgow, as part of a mass vaccination drive by NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde. Picture date: Saturday January 23, 2021.

Guidance from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) states that a second dose should be given up to 12 weeks after the first.

Second doses have continued at pace, with over 50,000 delivered on Wednesday.

Chief Medical Officer Gregor Smith said he expects vaccine supply to “open up again” for first doses soon.

“We always knew that the dosage schedule was going to become squeezed at this point in time because of the supply chain that was in place,” he said on Thursday.

"It’s right that we concentrate on those second dosages just now to make sure that people are fully vaccinated. It's important that we get people as close to that 12-week mark as possible to receive that second dose.

“Inevitably the consequence of that is that the first doses have been squeezed at this moment in time.

“But we do expect that supply will begin to open up for that first dose again so that we can start to move more firmly into that area again in the future.

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“The exact timing that we start to see that is going to be a gradual escalation of those first doses, but I'm optimistic that we'll start to see that opening up soon.”

Dr Smith said he is aware of a “small number” of Scots receiving their second vaccine dose more than the recommended 12 weeks after the first.

National Clinical Director Jason Leitch stressed this is not a problem from a clinical point of view.

"From a clinical perspective, we are not as tied to an exact date of 12 weeks [...] we are comfortable with a margin of error, a little bit before, a little bit after, it’s not an exact science,” he said.

“Getting your second dose at 14 or 15 weeks is absolutely fine.”

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