It appears this morning that three more cases of the Omicron variant of coronavirus have been identified in Scotland, bringing the total number of cases in the UK to 14.
The news comes as Boris Johnson is expected to hold a Downing Street press conference this afternoon, where he is expected to set out more details about the government’s booster vaccine rollout.
As part of a package of measures to slow down the spread of the new variant, all adults across Britain will now be offered a booster shot, with children over 12 to be given a second dose and severely immunosuppressed even a fourth jab.
Meanwhile, the gap between the second jab and the booster shot will be shortened.
Three more cases
Health Secretary Humza Yousaf said there are now five cases in the Lanarkshire area and four in NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, up from the six across the two areas announced on Monday.
Yousaf told BBC Good Morning Scotland: “We have adequate supply including with the most recent advice but the biggest constraining factor is workforce, we’d have to go from a position of administering around about 500,000 flu and booster vaccines, don’t forget we’re also doing flu vaccines, a week to around about 700,000 a week, that is before yesterday’s advice came in .
“Now with yesterday’s advice we suspect there’s an additional at least 1 million doses added to the eligibility criteria.”
He said authorities are working to ramp up the programme and “accelerate it as quickly as we possibly can”.
Yousaf said that calls to reopen mass vaccination centres do not take account of the “challenges and complexities” of the vaccination programme, and authorities do not want to take NHS staff away from other important duties.
He told the programme: “The NHS is under significant pressure, what we don’t want to do is take people away from really core, important, significant duties – the NHS is already under significant pressure – and get them doing vaccinations.
“With Jadvice yesterday that will significantly increase, so we’ll do what we can but of course additional premises are absolutely a part of the plan.”
Yousaf also said there appeared to be no connection between the Omicron variant cases identified in Scotland and Cop26 or a recent South Africa rugby match.
He said: “There’s nothing that indicates these cases or this new variant has come via the rugby or Cop26 but that work of course is still ongoing .”
Moderna CEO casts doubt
Amid the rising cases in the UK, Moderna CEO Stephane Bancel said this morning that existing vaccines would struggle with the Omicron variant and warned it would take months for pharmaceutical companies to manufacture enough jabs at a sufficient scale to make a difference.
His tone contrasts with the likes of Pfizer and BioNTech, which had earlier suggested any new vaccine would be able to modified fairly quickly.
“His rather candid comments have seen oil prices slide back sharply, as an increasingly jittery market react with concern to the prospects of further restrictions and lower demand,” commented Michael Hewson, chief market analyst at CMC Markets UK, this morning.
As a result of these rather frank comments, markets in Asia dropped sharply and the gains made yesterday in European trading look set to disappear as we look to a sharply lower open later this morning, while US futures have also rolled over, he added.