UK & Scottish government ministers should agree resource-sharing to deliver roll-out, and reopen mass vaccination centres.
The emergence of the Omicron variant has underlined the need for greater cooperation both globally and at home.
Our response must match the threat of the variant. The greater the risk, the greater the need for cooperation.
Unfortunately, we have already seen manufactured spats between our leaders – we have come too far to allow differences to dictate progress.
Greater cooperation between our two government’s would deliver greater results – and a failure to do so costs us dear.
Last year, research by Our Scottish Future has shown Scotland initially lagged behind in testing capability. Complex logistics also harmed the effectiveness of Test and Trace. We cannot allow this to happen again.
This means greater cooperation and coordination and less politics to improve results.
In the last few days, we are already seeing a breakdown in our systems. Reports have emerged today that centres have not yet operationally moved to the new JCVI (Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation) booster guidance which now permits a booster 3 months after their second vaccination.
As a result, people are being wrongly turned away despite having booked a booster – with some being told they need to wait 24 weeks, double the time of the new JCVI guidance
As a matter of urgency, our governments must strive to abolish the layers of bureaucracy between the JVCI guidance and vaccination centres, as every single person wrongly turned away weakens our defences against the pandemic.
To do so, we should also be reopening mass vaccination centres which allow people to walk in – eliminating a potential obstacle to vaccination, with both UK and Scottish Governments putting their hands to the wheel.
Any purported problems with staffing could be resolved by government’s sharing of resources, with health boards financially and logistically empowered by government.
It is not only operationally that we must improve. Entirely separate communication strategies to combat the same opponent only sows confusion and weakens our defences.
In our vaccine paper last year, we showed that over half of Scots were confused about what Covid guidance to follow, having been bombarded with different messages from different governments.
No one should be disadvantaged in vaccine or booster access because of where they live. There should be consistent standards and targets across the UK. We need to learn our previous lessons and consistently apply them. As the virus evolves so must our response.
This week began with a political spat and should end with an agreement on deeper cooperation.