The suggestion an independent Scotland would have been unable to procure coronavirus vaccines is “nonsense”, Nicola Sturgeon has said.
Scotland’s first minister said coronavirus vaccines are not a “gift” from the UK government to Scotland and are procured on a joint four-nations basis with Westminster and the devolved nations.
Questioned on ITV’s Good Morning Britain programme: “If an independent Scotland was in Europe you wouldn’t have 2.8 million people vaccinated, would you?” the SNP leader replied: “I just think that is utterly nonsense.”
She added: “The UK was still within the transition period when it procured the vaccine and that didn’t prevent it procuring the vaccine on a four-nations basis with England, Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland, the way we procure the flu vaccine every year. That was done, nothing would have prevented that happening had we still been in the European Union.
“And of course the delivery of the vaccination programme in Scotland is down to the sterling efforts and fantastic work of NHS Scotland vaccinators and teams across the country and they have my deep and everlasting appreciation for the fantastic work that they are doing.”
GMB presenter Sean Fletcher said the delivery of the vaccination in Scotland was also down to the “procurement of the UK government getting those vaccines”.
Ms Sturgeon told him to “hold on” and stressed procurement was on a four-nations basis.
She added: “We do it voluntarily on a four-nations basis. It’s not a gift from the UK government to Scotland. We choose to pool our efforts in that way. We do it with the flu vaccine every year.
“Scotland could if it chose procure the vaccine separately – health is devolved – but we chose to do it on a four-nations basis because it makes sense and if Scotland was independent it may well be that we still chose to do that.
“So these arguments that we couldn’t do these things if we were independent, frankly, are nonsense and don’t stand up to any scrutiny whatsoever.”