It seems to me that, if 77 per cent of the people who apply to the self-isolation support scheme do not receive a payment, there is something wrong with how the scheme is operating.
We all recognise that the new variant of Covid-19 demands new action to suppress its spread. The advice from the scientific advisory group for emergencies—SAGE—is that actions such as delaying the second dose of the vaccine form only one part of a comprehensive, ambitious strategy to do that. However, less than two weeks ago, one senior Government adviser, in response to a question about people’s immunity from the first dose, said:
“They get a little bit ... but it is not like 50 per cent and then another 50 per cent. These numbers are not right ... it is more like 10 per cent and 90 per cent, so the second dose is much more important on top of the first dose.”
A week later, a statement from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation said:
“Short term vaccine efficacy from the first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is calculated at around 90%, short term vaccine efficacy from the first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine is calculated at around 70%”.
Maintaining public confidence in the vaccination programme is critical, but that means ensuring that messages are clear and consistent from all Government advisers. Can the First Minister take responsibility for that? Can she today set out the expected number of people to be vaccinated each week, based on current assumptions?