During the Covid-19 Statement in the Scottish Parliament, 15 March 2022, Ruth Maguire MSP asked the First Minister about vaccine effectiveness studies.
Many people in the communities that we represent will be worried about the rising number of cases. I saw the chief medical officer mention vaccine effectiveness studies at the weekend, and I wish to ask the First Minister about those. What reassurance can they provide to the vaccinated, and what encouragement can they give to those who are yet to get their jags?
That is something that clinical experts keep under very close review. The data on vaccine effectiveness is scrutinised closely. Emerging evidence demonstrates that boosters continue to provide strong protection against serious illness. Recently published Health Security Agency data indicates that initial vaccine effectiveness against hospitalisation among older people increases to around 90 per cent two weeks after a booster and remains at around that level for more than 10 weeks, although there will continue to be strong protection after that. That is why we continue to encourage people to come forward for vaccination, even if they have not had boosters so far. It is not too late to do so, and it gives significant protection.
I mentioned Hong Kong in my statement. For people who are interested, it is worth looking at the data. Omicron is causing very severe illness there, and the death numbers are spiralling because vaccination rates are relatively low. That underlines the importance of vaccination and the fact that it is immune protection that is making omicron less severe rather than any inherent mildness of the variant.