South Scotland MSP Colin Smyth has welcomed the news that the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine has been approved for use in the UK and believes that it will be a “game changer” in the roll out of vaccinations across Ayrshire.

Coin Smyth said, “This is fantastic news and will be a real game changer in the fight against COVID-19 across Ayrshire  The scientists, volunteers and all others involved in the development of the latest vaccine deserve our thanks.

“It’s no secret that the current Pfizer vaccine, although making a real difference in vaccinating the most vulnerable quickly and saving lives, does have challenges when it comes to needing specialist storage at exceptionally low temperatures and that means it wasn’t going to be the solution for mass vaccinations across a widespread rural area such as Ayrshire. The Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine is easier to manage and transfer to every part of the area.

“We now need a swift rollout programme firstly to complete NHS and care worker vaccinations, as well as the most vulnerable and other key workers, but then clear plans on how it will be used for mass vaccination across Ayrshire.

“The worrying rise in cases locally shows we are in a race against time and this virus won’t be under control until that mass vaccination programme has been widely completed. In the meantime, know the current restrictions are tough and having a real negative impact on people’s livelihoods but it is more important than ever for people to be vigilant and to follow the rules and put simply, stay at home if you can”.

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