Part of the debate – in the Scottish Parliament on 4th January 2021.

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The First Minister:

It is really important to give people hope. It feels very difficult to stand here talking about hope today, but I will use my race analogy again. Back in March, the virus was in a race of its own—there was only one lane, with the virus in it, and we were all desperately trying to slow down the virus and bring it under control. This time, although it feels very dark and difficult today, we have another lane with the vaccine in it, and we hope and expect that the vaccine can win the race over the next few months. That gives us hope that the sacrifices this time are absolutely paving the way for brighter, better and much more normal times ahead.

We continue to do procurement on a four-nations basis through the UK vaccines task force. To be clear, that does not involve—in the language that some have used—the UK buying vaccines for us; it is about all four nations pooling our resources and efforts to ensure that we get the best position. These are new vaccines—Covid vaccines have been authorised for supply for only a matter of weeks—and we are working with counterparts in the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, the Department of Health and Social Care and Public Health England to establish a reliable supply schedule for health boards in order to support their vaccination programming.

I have set out our expectations for supply. Before Christmas, the Cabinet Secretary for Health and Sport and I had discussions with Pfizer about its supply expectations, and we intend, and will seek, to have the same discussions with AstraZeneca over the next period.