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Oxford vaccine to be administered in Scotland from Monday

The Oxford University and AstraZeneca Covid vaccine will be given to people in Scotland from Monday, Nicola Sturgeon has said.

It comes as the country recorded more than 2,000 new coronavirus cases in a single day – the second day in a row that the figure has set a new record.

Ms Sturgeon told MSPs the Government has been preparing for the deployment of the vaccine “for some time”.

She added: “I can confirm that it will be administered in Scotland from Monday, January 4.

“As of Sunday more than 92,000 people had already received their first shot of the Pfizer vaccine but today’s news means that more people will get their first dose of a Covid vaccine much sooner than originally anticipated.”

Health Secretary Jeane Freeman welcomed the announcement and said the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine is less difficult to transport and store

“At the end of a very difficult year this is a truly excellent piece of news,” Ms Freeman said.

“When it is your turn to be vaccinated you will be contacted by your local health board and I urge you to please take up the offer.

“Vaccination is one of the most important tools we have as we work our way out of this pandemic.

“But as we vaccinate as many people as quickly as supplies allow, we have a new more transmissible strain of Covid-19.

“That makes it vital that we all continue our work to suppress the virus in Scotland, rigorously complying with the restrictions where we live and making sure we continue to wear face coverings, maintain two-metre distance from others outside our own household and wash our hands regularly.”

The priority list for vaccination set out by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) remains the same, with second doses of both vaccines required within 12 weeks, Ms Freeman added.

The latest Scottish Government figures indicate 2,045 new cases of Covid-19 were reported in the last 24 hours, after a previous high of 1,895 cases on Tuesday.

Wednesday’s figures also reported 43 fatalities, bringing the death toll under this measure – of people who first tested positive for the virus within the previous 28 days – to 4,510.

Seven Covid-19 deaths were recorded between Friday December 25 and Tuesday December 29, though the Scottish Government noted register offices have been closed over the public holidays.

The latest statistics also show 124,831 people have now tested positive in Scotland, up from 122,786 the previous day, with the daily test positivity rate at 11.3% – having been 14.4% on Tuesday.

There are 1,133 people in hospital confirmed to have the virus, with 69 of them in intensive care.

Ms Sturgeon has said the new Covid-19 strain is “fast becoming” the most dominant one in Scotland.

“That is a concern as it’s thought to be significantly more transmittable,” she said.

“Analysis done by Public Health Scotland shows that, yesterday, 42.8% of positive tests processed for Scotland in the Lighthouse labs had the S gene drop-out that is indicative of the new strain.

“That is higher than the 38% suggested by ONS analysis for the week beginning 14 December. And that in turn compared to just 6% at the end of November.”

All of Scotland’s mainland areas entered Level 4 – the toughest of the country’s five tiers of restrictions – for three weeks on Boxing Day.

In this tier, non-essential shops, cafes, restaurants, gyms and hairdressers must close.

Orkney, Shetland, the Western Isles and other island communities moved to Level 3.

Ms Sturgeon said “even tighter” restrictions cannot be ruled out for Level 4 areas, and she vowed to keep Parliament updated should “any changes be required over the remainder of the festive period”.

She added the “planning assumption” remains to open schools on January 18, but parents will be informed of any changes that may be necessary.

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