Nicola Sturgeon has hailed the “heroic achievement” of hardy Scots who braved ice and snow to set a new daily vaccination record on the same day coronavirus hospitalisations fell to below the spring peak.
The first minister confirmed more than 63,000 people had received the jab over the previous 24 hours, meaning around 23% of the population – including some of the most vulnerable – have now been vaccinated against the deadly virus.
Speaking during the daily Covid-19 briefing on Thursday, Ms Sturgeon said 1,499 people were in hospital with the virus – down 43 in 24 hours.
‘Rays of sunshine’
It is the lowest figure since January 7 and below the spring peak of confirmed cases in hospital of 1,520, recorded on April 19 and 20. The R number – or how many people each infected person passes the virus on to – is below one.
“Significantly, that means that the number of Covid patients in hospital is now back below the peak of last spring, which is another wee ray of sunshine for us to feel positive about today,” Ms Sturgeon said.
“That is reflected in the decline in case numbers, in test positivity – the 4% test positivity we’ve reported today is the lowest in quite some time. The rays of sunshine that I spoke about last week undoubtedly are a wee bit brighter this week.”
But she stressed the situation is still “precarious”, as she revealed 48 deaths of people with coronavirus had been recorded in the past 24 hours, bringing the total number of fatalities under that measure to 6,599.
Joining the First Minister today is Deputy Chief Medical Officer, Dr Nicola Steedman. https://t.co/0FDkNu4fSA
— Scottish Government (@scotgov) February 11, 2021
The first minister confirmed Scotland has now vaccinated more than one million people against Covid-19, with the number surging to 1,048,747 people as of 8.30am. It is an increase of 63,178 – the highest-ever daily total of vaccinations administered.
“When you think about the truly dreadful weather most of the country is experiencing right now, which means that many of those administering and receiving the jag will have had to brave extreme elements, I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to describe this as a heroic achievement,” Ms Sturgeon said.
“The fact that more than one million people have now received the first dose of the vaccine is highly significant.
“It means we have now vaccinated more than 23% of the adult population, and most of them are in the groups who are most vulnerable to becoming seriously ill and dying from Covid.
“It gives us real hope that even if the vaccine doesn’t have an immediate impact on transmission, we will see it start to reduce serious illness and death.”
Vaccinations ‘on course’
The first minister apologised on Wednesday after a woman collapsed with suspected hypothermia during a botched booking process that left hundreds of elderly and clinically vulnerable people queuing for hours in the snow and ice.
An “IT error” led to appointments in Fife being double booked at community vaccination centres in Kirkcaldy, Lochgelly, Buckhaven and Glenrothes, and a number were told to go home and book news slots as temperatures plummeted.
The scenes were mirrored in Dundee city centre as hundreds were forced to queue for about an hour as extra vaccinators were drafted in to deal with a bottleneck.
Ms Sturgeon said the vaccination programme is now “on course” to give first doses to everybody over 70 and everyone with a serious clinical vulnerability by the middle of February.
She added: “Many in the 65 to 69 age group will have also had their first vaccine by that date. This is all really positive news – particularly the uptake figures.
“People are coming forward for this in numbers that I could not have dared hope for – in my wildest dreams I would have hoped for it, but I would have been very sceptical.
“That is down to the appetite and the willingness of everybody in these groups to come together for their individual protection, but also to play their part in our collective fight against this virus.”