Coronavirus (COVID-19) update: First Minister's statement - 18 March 2021

Statement given by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon in the Scottish Parliament, Edinburgh on the 18 March 2021.

Thank you, Presiding Officer. I will give a very quick update on today’s statistics.

Yesterday, 624 new cases were reported, which was 2.7% per cent of all the tests that were carried out. The total number of confirmed cases is now 211,854.

405 people are in hospital, which is 17 fewer than yesterday, and 38 people are in intensive care, which is the same as yesterday.

I regret to report that, in the past 24 hours, a further 7 deaths have been registered of people who had first tested positive for Covid in the previous 28 days.

The number of deaths under that daily measurement, is now 7,536.   However, the latest National Records of Scotland data shows that the total number is closer to 10,000.

On Tuesday, the first anniversary of lockdown, we will commemorate all those who have lost their lives with a minute’s silence.  

But today, I want to send my condolences – once again – to all those who have lost a loved one.

Later today, we will publish the latest estimate of the reproduction number.

We expect it to show again that the R number is below 1.

I can also now provide an update on the vaccination programme.

I am pleased to confirm that as of 8.30 this morning, more than 2 million people have received their first dose of the vaccine.

41184 people received their first dose yesterday, bringing the total to 2,23,2.

In addition, 195 people have also now received their second dose, which is an increase of 10221 since yesterday. That means that 54105 people in total received vaccinations yesterday.

Virtually all over 65 year olds have now received a first dose of the vaccine.

So have 74% of 60-64 year olds; 44% of 55 to 59 year olds; and 35% of 50 to 54 year olds.

You will have heard reports that, across the UK, supplies of the AstraZeneca vaccine will be lower than expected. I discussed this in the last two days with representatives of AstraZeneca  and Pfizer yesterday.

At present, we expect that – during the next month – we will have approximately 500,000 fewer doses than we had previously anticipated. 

For that reason, there may be periods in April when we need to prioritise second doses. 

However, I want to be clear, we do still expect to offer a first dose of the vaccine to the remaining JCVI priority groups, by the middle of next month, as planned. That is everyone over aged 50, unpaid carers and all adults with underlying health conditions. We also expect to have delivered a first dose to all adults in the population by the end of July.

 So when you are invited for an appointment, please accept it.

It is also worth stressing that the supplies we’ve ordered will eventually come through. 

And overall, the roll-out of the vaccination programme continues to be very encouraging.  It gives us genuine cause for optimism, about the months ahead.

As a result, we’ve now been able to provide more detail about our plans for easing restrictions.

And we have good reason to hope for a return to a more normal life, over the course of the summer.

 All of this depends on continued suppression of the virus.

So – for now – it is vital that everyone continues to follow the stay at home rule.

And when we are out and about, we need to follow the FACTS guidance.

If we all continue to do that, as we vaccinate more and more people, we can expect that steady progression out lockdown and a return to normality over the summer.

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