Nicola Sturgeon: 'Misleading' Covid-19 vaccine figures used by First Minister corrected by Scottish Government

The Scottish Government corrected claims from Nicola Sturgeon and Jeane Freeman that a key Covid-19 vaccination target was hit in February.

First Minister of Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon, during a Covid briefing at the Scottish Parliament in Holyrood, Edinburgh. Picture date: Tuesday March 2, 2021.
First Minister of Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon, during a Covid briefing at the Scottish Parliament in Holyrood, Edinburgh. Picture date: Tuesday March 2, 2021.

The First Minister and Health Secretary both said the Scottish Government target of delivering 400,000 vaccinations a week had been “exceeded” in February.

Scotland was instead “on course” to pass the target, a Scottish Government spokesperson said, but ended up falling just short of it due to bad weather, with the highest number of vaccinations in a single week reaching 392,000 in February 8 to February 14.

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The official record of Ms Sturgeon’s claim to the Scottish Parliament will be amended.

Health Secretary Jeane Freeman in the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh after First Minister Nicola Sturgeon updated MSPs on any changes to the Covid-19 restrictions in Scotland. Picture date: Tuesday February 2, 2021.

Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar said he was “disappointed” both politicians had used “misleading” statistics.

“It’s very disappointing that both the First Minister and the Health Secretary have used misleading statistics regarding the vaccination programme, but I’m glad the official record is to be amended,” he said.

“The roll-out of the vaccine programme is the most important task currently facing the Scottish Government, and Scottish Labour will continue to call for the acceleration of the vaccine programme.

“The public deserve to know when the 400,000 target will be met and exceeded.”

The Scottish Government previously aimed to hit 400,000 vaccinations a week “by the end of February”, an aim which has been put on hold in the face of lower supplies from manufacturers.

The week to Sunday February 28 saw just under 130,000 first and second doses.

Asked on Tuesday by Mr Sarwar when the 400,000 a week target would be hit, Ms Sturgeon said it had already been “exceeded” previously.

"We exceeded 400,000 vaccinations a week when we had the supplies to do so,” she said.

"The constraining factor right now is supply, which is not in our control. The dip in daily vaccination rates in the past couple of weeks, which we flagged in advance, was entirely down to the supply. The numbers across the four nations show that same dip.”

Asked at the coronavirus daily briefing on Wednesday when this target had been hit, Ms Freeman said she “could not recall”.

“Actually it was just over 400,000 vaccinations in the one week,” she said.

"It was a week in February, I can’t recall exactly what the week was.

"What that demonstrates is that if supplies were allowing, that’s what we would be doing this week. And that’s what we would have done last week, and next week.

"What it demonstrates is that we have the infrastructure to do 400,000 vaccinations a week in terms of sites, delivery logistics, vaccinators, support staff, volunteers who help us – coordinated by the British Red Cross – and my thanks to all of them for that.

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A Scottish Government spokesperson later confirmed the figure of more than 400,000 vaccinations in one week was not correct, adding that the Official Report containing Ms Sturgeon’s statement would be amended.

They said: "Scheduled appointment and vaccines supplies meant that in the seven days up to February 15 Scotland was on course to comfortably exceed 400,000 vaccinations.

"The bad weather at that time led to several thousand appointments being cancelled, but despite this over 392,000 doses of vaccine were administered in Scotland in that week.”

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