'Strong and compelling evidence' vaccination programme is reducing COVID deaths
There is "strong and compelling evidence" the vaccination programme is reducing the number of COVID deaths in Scotland, the First Minister has said.
Data from the National Records of Scotland (NRS) has shown a 62 per cent reduction in care home deaths in the latest three-week period, while deaths among those aged 85 and over have fallen by 45 per cent.
More than 1.3 million people in the country have received their first dose of the coronavirus vaccine, which has now been offered to everybody over 70, as well as all care home residents, frontline health and care workers and people with a serious clinical vulnerability.
Nicola Sturgeon said take-up rates in all of these categories have been "extraordinarily high", adding that 69 per cent of 65-69 year olds have also received a first dose.
The First Minister said of the latest NRS figures, which were published yesterday: "It's very strong and compelling evidence now that vaccination is starting to work to reduce the number of people dying.
"I touched on this yesterday when I updated parliament, but let me just cover it in a little bit more detail.
"Yesterday's National Records of Scotland figures show a 62 per cent reduction in the number of COVID deaths which have taken place in care homes over the past three weeks.
"That is a larger decline than we have seen for deaths happening in hospitals or in people's own homes.
"As a result of that, the proportion of COVID deaths, the proportion of the overall number of people dying taking place in care homes, has fallen from 34 per cent around the start of this year to 13 per cent last week.
"With the exception of one week at the end of August when there were only two COVID deaths registered overall, care homes accounted for a smaller proportion of COVID deaths last week than at any time since March of last year – in other words, at any time since virtually the beginning of the pandemic.
"So that does give us quite strong confidence now that the early vaccination of care home residents and the focus on trying to maximise uptake within older people's care homes is now having the impact that we desperately hoped to see it have."
Another 685 people have tested positive for the virus in Scotland, while there were 57 additional deaths registered in the past 24 hours.
There are currently 1,261 people confirmed to have the virus in hospitals, which the First Minister said is "quite a bit below" the peak of last spring. However she caveated: "Our hospitals continue to be under very severe pressure."