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Scottish Government forced to remove Covid vaccination deployment plan after blunder

By Scott Maclennan

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There were concerns that the information made available could endanger supplies and have an impact on the vaccine roll-out.
There were concerns that the information made available could endanger supplies and have an impact on the vaccine roll-out.

A major blunder by the Scottish Government could have affected the number of doses of Covid vaccine being supplied to the country.

Nicola Sturgeon's government was left red-faced after publishing apparently confidential information.

Within hours it was forced to remove its own Covid vaccination plan after the UK government raised serious concerns about its contents.

It was the second such error from the Scottish Government in two days. Health secretary Jeane Freeman revealed the location of where vaccines were being stored despite concerns for their security.

A UK government source told the Press Association: "The reason we didn't want to publish these figures was because everyone in the world wants these vaccines, and if other countries see how much we are getting they are likely to put pressure on the drug firms to give them some of our allocation."

The Scottish Conservatives' health spokesman, Highlands and Islands MSP Donald Cameron, said: “This is the second serious error by SNP ministers in the space of 24 hours.

“Yesterday, the health secretary revealed a secret location that Scottish Government officials wanted to keep confidential. Now, they’ve had to pull a whole vaccination plan out of sheer incompetence.

“These mistakes potentially endanger supplies and risk impacting the roll-out of the vaccine.

“We all want the delivery of the vaccine to succeed but these entirely avoidable mistakes suggest the SNP are running about like headless chickens behind the scenes.

“We need to see a blunder-free vaccine plan from the SNP government as soon as possible.”

The First Minister responded to the claims at today’s briefing after questions from reporters.

“We posted the vaccine deployment plan yesterday which has been temporarily taken off the website after the UK government raised concerns about the level of information we included in that on the projected supply of vaccine,” Ms Sturgeon said.

“We were seeking to be – and I think it is important to be – very transparent around all aspects of this, to be clear on the targets we are setting for the numbers of people we are vaccinating, and then to give people as much assurance as we can, subject to all the caveats that we still have to put in place about the supply flows.

“But the UK government has some commercial confidentiality concerns about that, so we're having a discussion with them about what can be published.

“But the information in that plan about the targets that we are setting, starting with the JCVI [Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation] at clinical priority list and then working on to the wider population, that stands as it was published yesterday.

“It is not our aspiration to vaccinate the whole population, it is our intention to vaccinate the whole adult population – and that is one of the things that makes this vaccination programme such a massive logistical challenge.

“Because it's not like flu where we, every year, do the clinically prioritised groups – this is a whole population, although as vaccines developed we may be able to do younger people in the future.”

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