First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has again faced questions over the speed of the Covid-19 vaccine rollout in Scotland after the country saw its lowest daily total doses on record on Sunday, at under 10,000 jags.
The Scottish Government has delivered a first dose to 575,897 Scots, just over half the one million that Health Secretary Jeane Freeman initally said would be vaccinated by the end of January.
An “adapted estimate” of 560,000 given by Ms Freeman in mid January has been exceeded, but the SNP faced criticisms of “setting the bar too low” with amended targets.
The country has also been compared unfavourably to other UK nations. Around 13 per cent of the adult population in Scotland have been given a first dose, compared to 18 per cent of adults in England.
“With vaccinations slowing down, the Scottish Government needs to push ahead with a more effective plan that can speed up the pace. They must show more ambition and outline details for a full 24-hour vaccination rollout,” said Scottish Labour interim leader Jackie Baillie.
“If we are in race against the virus then we’re losing that race and it is the people of Scotland who are paying the price.”
Almost all care home residents – 98 per cent – have received a first dose, along with 88 per cent of care home staff and 80 per cent of those over the age of 80.
Some 113 per cent of frontline health and social care workers in Scotland are recorded as having been vaccinated following an underestimate of the size of this cohort.
When asked at the daily coronavirus briefing on Monday if the size of any other cohorts may have been underestimated, thereby inflating the percentages which have been vaccinated, Ms Sturgeon said she had been looking “in detail” at the issue on Monday.
“I actually think in the over-80s cohort the issue may be the opposite,” she said.
She said the figure of health and social care staff was a “rough estimate” and that reasons behind the discrepancy may include the figure being too low, and in some cases doses being given to non-frontline staff who were deemed to be of equal priority.
Ms Sturgeon said the country is “ahead of schedule” to complete vaccination of all over 80s by Friday this week – a target which was initially set for the end of last week.
Some 9,628 people were given a first dose on Sunday, the lowest daily total since the Scottish Government began publishing daily figures on January 11.
Figures were also unusually low last Sunday, and Ms Sturgeon said she wanted to investigate.
"It looks to me as if, for some reason, we are simply falling off a bit on a Sunday… I can’t tell you any more than that right now in terms of the explanation,” she said.
“I’m absolutely clear to the team that if that is an issue then we obviously need to resolve that because we need to make sure we’re going at a certain pace every single day.”
Doses delivered on Sundays have also been lower in other nations. Figures tend to increase each day in Scotland, but on Thursday and Saturday last week they dropped by around 20 per cent from the day before. Sunday’s figure was a third of the highest daily total last week – Wednesday, at almost 30,000 doses.
Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross called the dosage drop a “shambles”.
"The SNP are failing to deliver a seven-day service,” he said, adding: “If this sounds like Groundhog Day, it’s because the Scottish Conservatives said the same thing last week. For the second Sunday in a row, delivery has been a shambles and vaccine figures have fallen off a cliff.”
The First Minister said by the end of this week everyone aged between 70 and 79, and all adults of any age classed as being clinically extremely vulnerable, will have received a letter inviting them to come for vaccination.
“We are well on track for everyone in these groups to have received the first dose by mid-February,” she said.
Some 14 per cent of those over 75 have now been given a first dose.
It comes as mass vaccination centres opened in several locations around the country on Monday, including the Edinburgh International Conference Centre (EICC) and the P&J Live in Aberdeen. More than 150 more centres are due to be up and running by the end of this week.
These centres are capable of vaccinating thousands of people per day, but Ms Sturgeon said they are prevented from reaching full capacity by supply shortages.
The NHS Louisa Jordan has been delivering between 1,000 and 2,000 doses per day since December, Ms Sturgeon said, with the capacity to reach 10,000 per day. The EICC has capacity for 21,000 doses a week, but began with a target of 1,620 in its first day on Monday.
A row over supply figures continues, as the Scottish Government is due to publish details of vaccine supply from this week. This information had previously been withheld after the UK Government expressed concerns over supply chain security.
Scottish Secretary Alister Jack said on Sunday that around one million doses had been allocated to Scotland.
Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie said the public “deserve to know” why vaccine doses remain in storage.
"For weeks the First Minister has been claiming that Scotland's vaccination lag was due to the decision to focus on care homes,” he said.
"But now almost all care home residents on both sides of the border have been vaccinated and the gap is still widening.
"The First Minister is in denial if she thinks the public are going to be taken in by this charade. We are seeing deadlines for vaccination invites whizz past and tens of thousands of doses apparently sitting unused. The public deserve to know why."