Experts are assessing whether new Covid variants are having more impact on children after 10 youngsters aged nine and under were admitted to hospital last week.

Deputy First Minister John Swinney said not many children have been admitted to hospital during the pandemic but the number currently in hospital is “on the high side”.

Health Secretary Humza Yousaf said on Wednesday that 10 children aged zero to nine were admitted to hospital last week “because of Covid”.

READ MORE: Covid Scotland: Glasgow study finds patients given unecessary drugs

Mr Swinney, who is also Covid Recovery Secretary, said experts will be trying to determine whether there is something in the new variants that are emerging that is making it more acutely challenging for children with a greater impact on their health.

He told the BBC’s Good Morning Scotland: “If you go back over the last 12 months, relatively few children have been hospitalised as a consequence of Covid so we’re now seeing obviously a concentration of hospitalisation outwith the over-50s group because the overwhelming majority of that group are vaccinated and have some protection.

“There are still some people being hospitalised with the vaccine.”

Asked whether more children are being admitted to hospital, he said: “The current numbers are on the high side, certainly over the period of Covid we’ve not seen very many children hospitalised but we’re seeing a number just now.

"So we have to look at all of these factors to determine is there something in the new variants that are emerging that is making it more acutely challenging for children with a greater health impact, and these are the issues that we keep under constant review and upon which we take clinical advice.”

Mr Swinney also said he is confident they will vaccinate all over-50s in Scotland with both doses by the end of July.

HeraldScotland:

He was asked whether everyone over 50 in Scotland will be vaccinated with both doses by June 21, which is the target set in England by UK vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi.

Mr Swinney said: “We will be very close to that point but our target was to have all of the groups 1-9 completed during July, that was always our figure, that’s what we’re working towards, but of course we’re trying to accelerate vaccination where we are able to do so provided supplies are available for that to be the case and that’s the work that’s under way just now which is delivering substantial progress.”

READ MORE: Prestwick: sports bar at the centre of new Covid outbreak

He added: “We said we would have this exercise completed in June/July, that is exactly what we will do and we are confident that the programme we have in place is able to do exactly that.

“We’ve said the end of July and I’m very confident that’s exactly what we will achieve.”