Scotland's Covid vaccination programme keeping pace with rest of UK, says Nicola Sturgeon

Scotland’s Covid-19 vaccination programme is not lagging behind the rest of the UK, Nicola Sturgeon has said.

Scotland currently has the lowest number of first doses per population of the four UK nations, and has had a lower coverage rate than England throughout the vaccine rollout.

But Ms Sturgeon told a Covid-19 briefing on Tuesday that it is “not the case” to say Scotland is behind other nations, as the differences in percentage cover are so small and can often fluctuate.

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Currently 66 per cent of over-18s in Scotland have been given a first dose, while in both England and Northern Ireland the figure is 67 per cent.

First Minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon after receiving the first shot of the Astra Zeneca vaccine, administered by staff nurse Elaine Anderson, at the NHS Louisa Jordan vaccine centre in the SSE Hydro in Glasgow, Scotland. Picture date: Thursday April 15, 2021.

Wales has moved ahead with its programme and has now given a first dose to 77 per cent of adults.

Ms Sturgeon said the vaccine programme was going well and was not behind that of other nations.

"Certainly in the last few days it is broadly comparable,” she said.

“I think we have been slightly behind Wales, but ahead of England.

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"There may be days where that looks different, but overall the vaccination programme is going exactly as we would have expected.”

Asked why the daily rate of vaccinations has slowed in Scotland in recent weeks, Ms Sturgeon said the issue was down to continuing supply limitations and recent changes in advice over AstraZeneca vaccines.

“In terms of supply, it has never been and never will be that we're not using all the supply we have,” she said.

"We have to balance the supplies to take account of certain things that we need to work through.

“Over the past few weeks, and we flagged this up some time ago, there has been more of a more of a focus and more of our supply being used to do second doses than first doses and the figures reflect that.

“We've also had a change to the advice on the use of AstraZeneca, for example, which means as we model our way forward we have to look not just at global supplies, but at the relative supplies of the different manufacturers so that we are using that for the appropriate age groups.”

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