JOHN Swinney has warned the Scottish Government is filled with “anxiety” that the uncertainties around a Brexit deal could impact the distribution of a coronavirus vaccine.
The Deputy First Minister has warned that disruption to medical supplies, including a vaccine because of Brexit cannot be ruled out.
On Thursday, UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock said he is “confident” a no-deal Brexit will not delay supplies and stressed that contingency measures were also in place.
The Pfizer vaccine, which the drugs company announced is 90 per cent successful at preventing Covid-19, is being manufactured in Belgium.
Mr Swinney was asked about the potential for disruption at the Scottish Government’s coronavirus briefing on Friday.
He said: “We have seen the developments of the arrangements that are in place to deal with the consequences of Brexit but none of us are certain about what those arrangements will be.
“So I think the honest answer to your question is there must be anxiety that there is the potential for disruption to medical supplies as a consequence of Brexit.
“That was one of the critical risks that the Scottish Government identified when we looked at the possibility of a no-deal Brexit scenario.”
He said work has since been done on how supplies can be maintained but it is “really damaging” to be leaving the EU during the pandemic.
Mr Swinney added: “We hope to avoid any of these examples and we will work to make sure that is the case.
“But I certainly can’t say to you in all honesty today that I don’t think there’s a possibility there could be disruption to either medical supplies or vaccine supplies as a consequence of Brexit – but we will do everything in our power to avoid that happening.”
On Thursday night, Mr Hancock said the UK could fly in vaccine supplies to avoid any issues around border checks.
The Cabinet minister told BBC Question Time: “We have a plan for the vaccine which is being manufactured in Belgium and if necessary we can fly in order to avoid those problems.
“We’ve got a plan for all eventualities.”