South Scotland MSP Colin Smyth has said he is confident that NHS Dumfries and Galloway will be able to deliver a Covid-19 vaccine as and when it becomes available.

The local MSP has spoken with health bosses in the past couple of months and was told the health board has actively been preparing for a vaccine roll out, potentially as early as next month, although warned that numbers would be limited to begin with.

On Monday, early results from the world’s first effective coronavirus vaccine showed it could prevent more than 90% of people from getting Covid.

The vaccine has been developed by pharmaceutical companies Pfizer and BioNTech and is one of 11 vaccines that are currently in the final stages of testing.

Colin Smyth said: “The news of this potential vaccine is very encouraging news, and something we should all welcome.

“From my own discussions with NHS Dumfries and Galloway in recent months, I know they have been actively preparing for the possibility of a vaccine being developed and how they might roll it out. That work will put our region in a very good position, though obviously this vaccine is still at early stages of development and nothing has been confirmed yet.

“However, as and when a vaccine becomes available, distributing it to people across the country will be a mammoth task and the Scottish Government must ensure that our health boards have the resources needed to deliver a vaccination programme, while managing COVID-19 cases and keeping other services going.

“We need a robust delivery plan for the Covid-19 vaccine in the national interest, including identifying priority patients, sufficient cold storage facilities and enough staff to administer the vaccine.

“The NHS is under tremendous strain and will need all available support to ensure every area of Scotland can be reached, including access to rural areas and the use of mobile units when needed.”

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