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Publication - FOI/EIR release

COVID-19 Government spend on advertising and vaccination questions: FOI release

Information request and response under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002

Published:
29 Mar 2021
COVID-19 Government spend on advertising and vaccination questions: FOI release
FOI reference: FOI/202100157043
Date received: 10 Feb 2021
Date responded: 8 Mar 2021
Information requested

1) How much money have the Scottish Govt spent in total on any form of advertising Covid19 be that radio, TV or newspapers since the pandemic started eg. The wearing of masks, social distancing, the vaccine, furlough etc?

2) What statistics do the Scottish Government hold on the risk of a person dying from contracting Covid19 - expressed by age group as a % of total population - and what are these?

3) What treatments are available for Covid19 other than vaccination? Since when and how are these treatments being implemented in Scotland to save lives?

4) Is the vaccine 100% effective?

5) On what basis is the vaccine licensed for use in Scotland and what clinical trials have been undertaken to ensure it is safe?

6) What liability to the manufacturers of the vaccines hold in the event I or anyone else for that matter suffers an adverse reaction eg. blindness etc?

7) What link is there between being deficient in Vitamin D and the risk of dying from Covid19 and what are the Scottish Govt doing to make sure anyone with a deficiency has access to supplements as required? How much advertising has been spent on this in comparison to Item 1) above?

Response

1) How much money have the Scottish Govt spent in total on any form of advertising Covid19 be that radio, TV or newspapers since the pandemic started eg. The wearing of masks, social distancing, the vaccine, furlough etc?

Answer: Communications is a fundamental part of a successful exit from the covid-19 pandemic. It is required to ensure that people from across Scotland are reached with the information, advice and support required. This includes the clear communication of the guidelines and restrictions the public should follow. This advertising helps the Scottish Government to support the required behaviours that we need the public to display in order to stop the spread of the virus and save lives. All advertising is placed through Scottish Government approved agencies and at all times the activity is evaluated to access maximum value for money and effectiveness.

Between 1 March 2020 and 31 January 2021, the Scottish Government public engagement spend has been £15,236,501. During this period 99.5% of the adult population (4.59m adults) has been reached over 510 times on average with multiple potential life-saving messages.

2) What statistics do the Scottish Government hold on the risk of a person dying from contracting Covid19 - expressed by age group as a % of total population - and what are these?

Answer: National Record of Scotland publishes all Covid-19 related death rates by group. This can be accessed via the link below which is already in the public domain. https://www.nrscotland.gov.uk/files//statistics/covid19/covid-deaths-21-data-week-02.xlsx

3) What treatments are available for Covid19 other than vaccination? Since when and how are these treatments being implemented in Scotland to save lives?

Answer: The JCVI provides recommendation based on the clinical data on how to tackle Covid-19. The Green Chapter 14 provides an overview of clinical data in details. Please see 14 (a) 6 and 7 on effectiveness of vaccine here: COVID-19 Greenbook chapter 14a (publishing.service.gov.uk) .

The mass vaccination is one way to control the virus along with other approaches such as restriction and testing which have been implemented in Scotland to protect individuals. The restriction and testing have been in place since the pandemic began last year.

The Scottish Government has been consistently clear that the most effective way to avoid the virus is to stay at home, social distance and follow the FACTS (face coverings, avoid crowded places, clean your hands regularly, two-metre distance and self-isolate).

4) Is the vaccine 100% effective?

Answer: Each vaccine goes through a rigorous and independent three-phase testing process long before it can be licensed as safe and effective for use. Regulators such as the European Medicines Agency and the UK’s Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency review trial results and decide whether to approve the vaccine. During a pandemic, the timeframes can be compressed, but never at the expense of safety. This will be the case for all other COVID-19 vaccines approved for use in the UK.

The safety of all vaccines and medicines is monitored by the Medicines and healthcare products regulatory agency (MHRA) on a UK wide basis. This includes reports from the Yellow Card Scheme which allows health professionals and patients across the UK to flag up suspected adverse reactions to any vaccine or medicine, as well as reports from worldwide use and on-going scientific evidence.

Concerns over the safety of vaccines are not taken lightly. Please be assured that the MHRA keep the safety of all vaccines under close and continual review, and would take appropriate regulatory action if new evidence emerged which called into question the safety of any vaccines currently in use in Scotland. If at any time surveillance information suggests that the safety profile of the vaccine is changing then Scottish Ministers would of course consider the implications of that immediately. The Joint committee on vaccination and immunisation (JCVI) also continues to monitor all available evidence and advice can be updated if new information becomes available. Scottish Ministers will of course consider carefully any future JCVI recommendations in respect of the vaccines administered in Scotland.

5) On what basis is the vaccine licensed for use in Scotland and what clinical trials have been undertaken to ensure it is safe?

Answer: At this time, there are currently no proven treatments for COVID-19, backed by peer reviewed empirical evidence. While a treatment that is effective against COVID-19 is certainly welcome, a vaccination is a preventative measure, which reduces your chances of being infected with COVID-19 and becoming ill in the first instance. It is a proactive measure, rather than a reactive one, which could reduce the chances of the virus being passed to others, and help bring an end to the pandemic. At this time, we do not know if a COVID-19 vaccine will prevent transmission, we do however know that it reduces mortality and morbidity.

If at any time surveillance information suggests that the safety profile of the vaccine is changing then Scottish Ministers would of course consider the implications of that immediately. The Joint committee on vaccination and immunisation (JCVI) also continues to monitor all available evidence and advice can be updated if new information becomes available. Scottish Ministers will of course consider carefully any future JCVI recommendations in respect of the vaccines administered in Scotland.

6) What liability to the manufacturers of the vaccines hold in the event I or anyone else for that matter suffers an adverse reaction eg. blindness etc?

Answer: I can confirm that the Government has established the COVID-19 vaccine to the Vaccine Damage Payments Scheme. This means that if you’re severely disabled as a result of a vaccination against certain diseases, including COVID-19, you could get a one-off tax-free payment of £120,000. This is called a Vaccine Damage Payment. The roles of the MHRA and JCVI in COVID-19 vaccines - Public health matters (blog.gov.uk)

7) What link is there between being deficient in Vitamin D and the risk of dying from Covid19 and what are the Scottish Govt doing to make sure anyone with a deficiency has access to supplements as required? How much advertising has been spent on this in comparison to Item 1) above?

Answer: In June 2020, the Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition (SACN) and the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) published the outcome of their reviews on vitamin D and COVID-19. Both found no evidence at that time to support that vitamin D can improve COVID-19 outcomes.

The SACN rapid review is available at https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/944108/SACN_.

The NICE evidence summary was available at https://www.nice.org.uk/advice/es28.

In December 2020, SACN published an updated rapid review on vitamin D and Acute Respiratory Tract Infections (ARTI). The review recommends no changes to current advice on daily intake of vitamin D. It also recommends that a daily intake of 10 micrograms of vitamin D may have some benefit in reducing the risk of ARTI. However the evidence is not yet sufficient to draw firm conclusions. The review is available at: SACN rapid review: Vitamin D and acute respiratory tract infections - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk).  This topic is being kept under review and SACN may update its recommendations if findings from robust, high quality randomised controlled trials provide further clarification on vitamin D and ARTI.

In relation to the second part of the question on supplementation, there is a difference in terms of whether you are providing supplements to treat vitamin D deficiency or as part of a public health approach to prevention. In terms of provision of supplements for those with deficiency, this is a clinical issue. Health boards are responsible for this and your GP or pharmacist can best advise.

Current advice is that everyone should consider taking a daily 10 microgram supplement of vitamin D to protect bone and muscle health, particularly during the winter months. It is specifically recommended that groups at higher risk of vitamin D deficiency take a daily supplement all year round. This includes pregnant and breastfeeding women, infants and children under 5, people who have low or no exposure to the sun, and people from minority ethnic groups with dark skin who require more sun exposure to make as much vitamin D.

Current advice on vitamin D is available at: www.gov.scot/publications/vitamin-d-advice-for-all-agegroups.

In terms of the provision of vitamin D supplements to support bone and muscle health, Healthy Start vitamins, which contain Vitamin D, have been provided free to all pregnant women in Scotland since April 2017. Breastfeeding women and children under 12 months in Scotland can get free vitamin D supplements containing the recommended daily amount.

The Scottish Government offered everyone on the shielding list a free four month supply of vitamin D from December 2020. Around 71,500 people opted to receive a supply which was sent to their homes from the week commencing 23 November 2020.

Vitamin D supplements are also available to buy from most major supermarkets, high street pharmacies, health food stores and online.

The Scottish Government has not undertaken any advertisement campaign on vitamin D in relation to Covid-19 and there is therefore no expenditure information on this.

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Contact

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Central Enquiry Unit
Email: ceu@gov.scot
Phone: 0300 244 4000

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