Scotland’s Finance Secretary has warned there is uncertainty about how the rollout of a coronavirus vaccine will be paid for.
Kate Forbes told Holyrood’s Finance Committee the Scottish Government does not yet know how much the distribution of a vaccine will cost or whether it will get any funding from the UK Government to pay for it.
She said there is a “huge amount of work going on right now” to plan for a vaccine rollout but the Scottish Government’s current proposal is to fund it using money it has already received through Barnett consequentials.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has previously expressed confidence that Scotland’s health boards will be ready and able to deliver a coronavirus vaccine when it becomes available.
Speaking at FMQs last week, Ms Sturgeon told the Parliament a vaccine programme will be led by the Scottish Government but carried out by health boards.
Health Secretary Jeane Freeman is due to make a statement on Thursday to give more details about plans for the rollout of a Covid-19 vaccine.
But there is a lack of certainty surrounding the funding for any vaccination programme, Ms Forbes said.
Giving evidence ahead of next year’s Scottish budget, she told the Finance Committee the cost implications are “currently being finalised”, taking into account issues such as the workforce who would administer any medicine, the timetable, who will get priority and the availability of safe and effective vaccines.
She said: “There’s a huge amount of work going on right now, a wide range of planning and guidance work being conducted to address the costs of providing the vaccination programme.
“But clearly there are still quite a number of uncertainties.
“Discussions with health boards are continuing this week, planning assumptions is for cost returns to be provided in December on all of that.”
She added: “The availability of additional funding through the UK Government consequentials to meet workforce, administration, deployment and other costs isn’t certain just now.
“So we’ve got to plan on the basis that the funding provided to date will cover all of those costs that I have just listed.”