DEATHS from Covid are falling fastest among care home residents and the over-85s, in "signs of progress" that the vaccination programme is beginning to work. 

The latest weekly release from National Records of Scotland is the first to officially highlight a decline in mortality among these groups. 

READ MORE: Care homes deaths falling 10 times faster than general population 

In the three weeks to February 14, deaths in care homes declined by 62 per cent from 111 in the week beginning January 18 to 42 last week, reducing to a level last seen at the end of October. 

Residents in care homes for the elderly were among the first to be vaccinated when the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine began being administered in these premises from December 14. 

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon described it as the "first hard evidence of the positive impact of vaccination". 

HeraldScotland: Source: National Records of Scotland Source: National Records of Scotland

Over the same three-week period deaths in hospitals from Covid fell by 11% and at home or non-institutional settings by 57%. 

Deaths from Covid among over-85s are also falling faster than in younger age groups. 

The have declined by 45% from 191 in the week beginning January 18 to 105 last week. 

There are now fewer deaths in this age group than in the 75-84 age group for the first time since mid-November. 

Vaccinations of over-80s in the community - starting with the oldest - began on January 4 using the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine.

The NRS figure combines all over-85s, however, so will include those who are care home residents as well as those in their own homes or in sheltered housing. 

Ms Sturgeon added: "I think it is reasonable to take some heart from this because it strongly suggests that the vaccine programme is having the hoped for effect of reducing the death toll from the virus."

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To date, 1.32 million people in Scotland - around 24% of the total population - have been vaccinated against Covid with a first dose. 

Pete Whitehouse, Director of Statistical Services, said: “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 3 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 percent above average for this time of year. This figure remains high, but has fallen steadily in recent weeks.”