The UK vaccine rollout has been in the world’s top five. And for all its recent troubles, AstraZeneca has shown in real-world tests to be every bit as effective as suggested in trials.

Families who lost loved ones to Covid have again urged Nicola Sturgeon to set a date for a public inquiry into the official handling of the pandemic.

A campaign group was disappointed when, in a meeting with the first minister, she refused to commit to a timetable and suggested a UK-wide public inquiry was still her preferred option.

Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice fear seeking a four-nations approach means nothing will happen for months despite a parliamentary vote for an immediate public inquiry in November.

Alan Wightman, of Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice, whose mother Helen died of coronavirus in a Fife care home, said: “The first minister said she will try again to get a four-nations approach but if she can’t get that she will commit to going for an inquiry in Scotland only. I was floored. I wasn’t expecting that.

“I reminded her of the vote in parliament in November for an immediate inquiry and that Health Secretary Jeane Freeman already tried for a four nations approach and didn’t get it.

“A four-nations approach is doomed from the start. Why would you waste time on that when you know the answer is going to be no?”

Scotland has the highest coronavirus infection rate in the UK, according to the latest national figures.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) test positivity figures show that while infections have levelled off in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, Scotland’s infection rate has increased over the past two weeks.

It is estimated one in 240 people in Scotland has the Covid infection.

It comes as West Lothian reports a significant spike in cases.

Scotland would still be in the “vice-like grip” of coronavirus if it had followed SNP advice on vaccinations, a UK Government minister has claimed.

Scottish Secretary Alister Jack hailed the vaccination programme against the virus as being a success for the UK.

He insisted: “Had we followed the SNP’s advice on vaccines and waited for the flat-footed EU, we would still be in the vice-like grip of the pandemic instead of confidently looking forward to better days.

“There can be no more eloquent expression of the success of the Union than this brilliant UK-wide approach.”

The UK, Mr Jack said, has developed a “Covid-19 vaccination programme that is the envy of the world”.

He described this as being as a “truly astonishing achievement” and on a “scale that dwarfs anything since the war”.

© Scotland Matters