Covid briefing response: Sturgeon ‘mincing words’ on vaccine rollout and Swinney’s fake news

The Scottish Conservatives have said Nicola Sturgeon must stop “mincing her words” and do more to promote vaccine uptake among young people.

In Tuesday’s Covid briefing, the First Minister was short of answers on how to increase the pace of the vaccine rollout among the under 40s.

In response, Scottish Conservative Leader Douglas Ross said more had to be done to increase the ease of access to vaccine centres in areas where the rollout has slowed, and a renewed vaccine marketing push should be made to younger people on social media.

Nicola Sturgeon also gave “evasive” answers on John Swinney’s use of a heavily disputed Covid graphic. She said the SNP Government would “reflect” on its use.

The criticism from the Scottish Conservatives comes as the SNP have failed to make substantial progress in the vaccination scheme in recent weeks, despite the huge success of Scotland and the UK’s scheme overall.

For the second day in a row, the percentage of the population who have received a first jag increased by only 0.1 per cent.

Yesterday, daily first doses of the vaccine hit a three-month low. Only 2,483 people received a first jag on 19 July.

Scottish Conservative Leader Douglas Ross said: “All the public learned at the briefing today is the First Minister is as content as ever to take a sideways swipe at the UK Government, even if she needs Dominic Cummings help to do it.

“Nicola Sturgeon has to stop mincing her words and tell it straight – the SNP’s slow progress is risking the planned easing of restrictions on August 9.

“The First Minister should be honest with people, instead of dancing around the issue. It is vital for the easing of restrictions that everyone who is able to get the vaccine does exactly that.

“There was no further indication of what the government are doing to increase uptake among young people. Nicola Sturgeon was short of answers on increasing the ease of access to vaccine drop-in centres for the parts of the country where coverage needs to be expanded.

“Beyond the same TV advert that the SNP Government have been using for months, there is no sign of an expanded marketing programme targeted towards young people, particularly on social media channels where they’re more likely to be reached.

“At the moment, it seems like the SNP are happy to sit back and hope more young people come forward to get their vaccine, without doing much as a government to encourage and support them to do so.”

Scottish Conservative Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Health, Annie Wells MSP, said: “John Swinney barely got a slap on the wrist for a misleading graphic that risks undermining public health messages.

“Nicola Sturgeon’s evasive defence was laughable. It seems promoting unverified information is tolerated if you’re a senior SNP politician.

“What is there for the SNP Government to “reflect” on? The Deputy First Minister has punted fake news.

“This is simple – delete it, distance the government from this kind of reckless behaviour, and unequivocally condemn the use of misleading information.”

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