Official figures indicate vaccinations are reducing the death toll from coronavirus, Nicola Sturgeon has said.
The First Minister said the latest report from National Records of Scotland (NRS) on coronavirus deaths contains the “first hard evidence of the positive impact of vaccination”.
Speaking at the start of First Minister’s Questions at Holyrood, she said every death from the virus is “deeply regrettable”, as the NRS reported 9,053 deaths have been registered where Covid-19 was mentioned on the death certificate, as of Sunday.
Between February 8 and 14, 323 Covid-related deaths were registered – a decrease of 54 fatalities from the previous week.
With the number of deaths having fallen for the last three weeks, Ms Sturgeon noted hospital deaths were down 11% over that period, with deaths in people’s homes and other “non-institutional settings” down 29%.
“However deaths in care homes, which were the early focus of the vaccination programme, have fallen by 62%,” the First Minister said.
“In fact, with the exception of one week at the end of August when there were only two Covid deaths registered overall, care homes accounted for a smaller proportion of overall Covid deaths last week than at any time since March of last year.
“I think that is positive news, given the toll the virus has taken on our care homes.”
She said the NRS figures show the largest reduction of deaths over the last three weeks was in the over 85 age group, with a drop of 45%.
The First Minister pointed out people aged over 80 living in the community had been the next priority of the vaccination programme, after care home residents.
She said: “It is reasonable to take some heart from this because it strongly suggests the vaccine programme is having the hoped for effect of reducing the death toll from the virus.”
The NRS statistics also show that in the most recent week, February 8 to 14, deaths of those aged 85 and over were lower than those aged 75 to 84 for the first time since November.
More than 80% of deaths over the most recent week occurred in hospital (266), while 42 occurred in care homes and 15 at home or in non-institutional settings.
Ms Sturgeon said by 8.30am on Wednesday, 1,320,074 Scots had received their first dose of the coronavirus vaccine -– an increase of 32,070 from the previous day.
Pete Whitehouse, director of statistical services at NRS, said: “Over 9,000 deaths have now been registered in Scotland where Covid-19 was mentioned on the death certificate and they represent loss and grief for families and communities across the country.
“Today’s statistics show some signs of progress – for the third consecutive week we have seen a welcome reduction in the number of deaths.
“Deaths in care homes over the last three weeks have fallen at a faster rate than deaths in other locations.
“The number of deaths in the 85 and over age group have also fallen more steeply than younger age groups.
“There were 146 excess deaths across all locations in the last week, 12% above average for this time of year.
“This figure remains high, but has fallen steadily in recent weeks.”
Updating MSPs on the daily coronavirus figures, Ms Sturgeon said Scotland has recorded 64 deaths from coronavirus and 1,121 positive tests in the past 24 hours.
It brings the death toll under this measure – of people who first tested positive for the virus within the previous 28 days – to 6,828.
The latest statistics show 194,269 people have tested positive in Scotland, up from 193,148 the previous day.
The daily test positivity rate is 5.2%, down from 6%. There are 1,317 people in hospital confirmed to have the virus, down 66 in 24 hours, and 99 patients are in intensive care, down one.
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