Nicola Sturgeon has faced calls to speed up the rollout of coronavirus vaccines, amid claims that the number of Scots being injected has dropped to a three-month low.
Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross and Labour’s Anas Sarwar both pressed the First Minister on the issue of vaccination as she updated MSPs on Covid restrictions north of the border.
While the Scottish Government has previously declared the vaccination programme has the capacity to give 400,000 injections a week, on Monday there were 17,749 vaccinations – with 7,163 people receiving their first jag and 10,286 getting their second.
That means that 3,941,571 Scots have had their first vaccination, with 2,903,557 having been given both doses.
But Mr Ross said that the latest daily vaccination figures were the “worst in three months”.
He complained that while the vaccine rollout had “happened at a phenomenal pace across the whole of the United Kingdom”, here in Scotland progress has “slowed”.
His Labour counterpart also urged the First Minister to go faster on vaccines, calling for people to get their second dose just four weeks after their first – instead of the current gap of eight weeks.
Mr Sarwar insisted this was in line with the advice from both the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the vaccine manufacturers.
The Scottish Labour leader said: “The vaccine is working, but it is not yet winning the race with the virus.
“The WHO advice is to administer the second dose of the vaccine after three to four weeks. The manufacturer’s advice is to administer the vaccine after three to four weeks.
“Many countries across the world are administering the second dose of the vaccine after four weeks, and we know from the data that the significant protection you get to the Delta variant comes from the second dose of the vaccine.”
He asked the First Minister: “Will the government now move to a four-week gap between vaccines as recommended by the WHO, as recommended by the manufacturers, and as led by other countries around the world?”
But Ms Sturgeon stressed it was the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation which recommended giving the two doses of vaccine eight weeks apart.
“No devolved government has gone against the recommendations of the JCVI on vaccination,” she said.
She told MSPs anyone who was “suggesting there is somehow some issue with a slowing down of the vaccine rollout” failed to understand how the programme worked.
The First Minister said there were two constrains on the pace of the rollout – the supply of the vaccine, and the need to leave a “clinically advised gap” of eight weeks between doses.
“When you have had your first dose we can’t give you the second dose until eight weeks have past,” she explained.
“So if we did a certain number of vaccinations on this date eight weeks ago, that limits the number of vaccinations we can do today.
“We are vaccinating as quickly as possible within those constraints.”