First Minister: Vaccination is the reason COVID surge hasn't led to another lockdown
The vaccination programme is the reason that a surge in COVID cases - caused by the more infectious Delta variant - has not led to the return of strict lockdown measures, the First Minister has said.
Nicola Sturgeon used a coronavirus briefing this afternoon to detail plans for drop-in jab clinics, which will be rolled out from Monday, and urged adults to take advantage and get vaccinated.
It was announced this morning that all mainland health boards will offer the clinics next week, meaning that everyone aged 18 and over can attend for their first or – if eight weeks have passed – second dose from then.
A further 3,823 people have tested positive for coronavirus in the last 24 hours, while another four deaths have been reported.
Sturgeon said the reason for pop-up clinics was to make it "as easy and as accessible for as many as possible" to get their immunised against the virus.
She also said the success of the programme, which has seen more than 50 per cent of the entire population fully vaccinated, is the reason the Scottish Government has not had to bring back tighter restrictions.
Sturgeon said: "The importance of the vaccination programme is especially evident, I think to everybody right now.
"We are continuing to deal with a surge in new cases. It is heavily driven by the dominance of the Delta variant.
"Vaccination is the reason that this surge in cases hasn't led to the re-imposition of a strict lockdown.
"I think it would have done that at any earlier stage in this pandemic. But now, and this is the positive thing about vaccination, the vaccines are doing much of the work that lockdown measures previously had to do."
Vaccination has been credited with weakening the link between the number of new cases of COVID and serious health harms.
The First Minister added: "The proportion of people who get COVID who now require hospital treatment fell from around 13 per cent in January to around 3 per cent at the start of June, and we continue to monitor that very carefully.
"So all of that is positive but – and this is quite a significant ‘but’ that I'm very deliberately injecting at this stage – all of us do still need to play a part, over and above vaccination, to make sure that we get through this next period, as quickly as possible.
"The rise in cases is a reminder that we still need to be cautious. This variant of the virus is spreading quickly. We know that COVID is potentially dangerous. No vaccine is 100 per cent effective, but these ones are very effective after two doses.
"Even if you still get the virus, your chances of becoming very ill with it are much reduced, and that should give assurance to people, especially those who are older or living with other health conditions, because I know many of you in particular will be worried right now, as you see cases continuing to spike.
"I want to assure you that we are not being complacent about this. Our priority, our plan, is to extend vaccine coverage as quickly as possible. That is our best line of protection.
"But we will also be encouraging renewed caution on behalf of the population, while we do so, because our biggest vulnerability just now is that there are still – not withstanding the success of the programme – quite a lot of people who do not yet have the protection of both doses."