Boris Johnson raises security concern as Nicola Sturgeon says she'll republish vaccine supply figures
The Prime Minister has warned the Scottish Government not to publish Covid vaccine supply figures after Nicola Sturgeon revealed she would make the numbers public, despite a demand from the UK government to keep them secret.
The First Minister said while her government had initially agreed to withdraw the statistics from its website, it would republish them from next week as a result of “briefing” of the figures by the UK Government to the media.
She made the revelation at First Minister’s Questions after being pressed by Scottish Conservatives’ Holyrood leader Ruth Davidson on why vaccines were not getting to GPs quickly enough.
However, on his visit to Scotland, Boris Johnson said that transparency about the vaccine programme had to be tempered by security.
Asked directly about Ms Sturgeon's statement, he said: “We’re working together as one to make sure the whole country is supplied.
“Of course we're in favour of the maximum possible transparency that is compatible with security of supply. That's the crucial thing – we have to have national security of supply.”
The Scottish Government had been told by Michael Gove to remove the supply numbers from its vaccine roll-out plan, as ministers and scientific advisers were concerned that knowledge about the exact number of vaccines the UK had received would allow other countries in the world to pressurise vaccine manufacturers to divert supply.
The issue was raised after Ms Davidson said she had been contacted by family doctors who had raised concerns about a lack of vaccine being delivered to their practices.
She said since Tuesday the Scottish Government had around one million vaccines available for use, and it was up to NHS Scotland to get vaccine doses to health boards, but that getting them from there to GPs was only happening weekly.
“GP after GP has been expressing their frustration at supply issues,” Ms Davidson said.
“All of which the First Minister continues to brush off. They just want it sorted out, when will she do it?”
Ms Sturgeon rejected the suggestion, saying: “I’m not brushing these concerns off, I’m answering in detail what’s happening.”
She added: “Ruth Davidson might have a point if we were way off meeting the targets to get through all the population groups but we're not – if anything we're on track to exceed those targets.
“In terms of supply ... I’m not going to go into detail about us publishing the expected supply and the UK Government demanding we take that out of the public domain ,but are happy to brief these figures through spin to the media.
“I've said to my officials, regardless of what they say, we will go back to publishing the supply figures as of next week so we all have transparency around that.”
Ms Sturgeon said more than half of the vaccines allocated to Scotland were “already in the arms of people, and the others will be going into the arms of people in the coming days” and the government was “likely to exceed” roll-out targets.
Ms Davidson asked if the government would allow GPs to order vaccines directly.
Ms Sturgeon said the government would “discuss with those on the frontline how we better streamline the programme".
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