FEWER than one in 20 Covid infections are leading to a hospital admission in Scotland, according to a new analysis. 

The Scottish Government's 'Covid-19 Strategic Framework' report describes figures showing that fewer than 4% of people testing positive for Covid were ending up in hospital by June 7 as an "important change" in the epidemic. 

The situation marks a dramatic change from the beginning of January, when 14% of cases were translating into a hospital admission. 

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The report notes: "As well as a lower proportion of cases now resulting in hospitalisation, there is evidence that those who do require hospital care are, on average, discharged more quickly.

"The reduced length of stay, in combination with reduced rates of admission, is why hospital bed use in Scotland has increased more slowly during May 2021 than in comparable earlier growth phases of the epidemic where positive case numbers have risen quickly."

HeraldScotland: Source: Covid-19 Scotland's Strategic Framework UpdateSource: Covid-19 Scotland's Strategic Framework Update

However, in a statement to the Scottish Parliament, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon cautioned MSPs that even a small percentage of cases going on to require hospitalisation could put pressure on the NHS if infections spiral out of control. 

On the basis of the most recent data that between 3-4% of infections will result in a hospital admission seven days later, NHS Scotland should expect to see between 277 and 369 Covid patients as a result of the 9,227 infections recorded over the past seven days. 

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The downward trend has gone hand-in-hand with the vaccine rollout, which targeted immunisations to priority groups based on age, health conditions, and occupational transmission risk (NHS workers, care home staff and frontline social care workers) first. 

HeraldScotland: People aged 44 and under now account for the vast majority of Covid infections in ScotlandPeople aged 44 and under now account for the vast majority of Covid infections in Scotland

As a result, the majority of infections and hospital admissions are now occurring among younger people who are less likely to become seriously ill. 

The most recent data from Public Health England indicates that people who are vaccinated with a single dose are 75% less likely to require hospital treatment due to a Covid infection compared to unvaccinated individuals, with protection rising to 92% (AstraZeneca) and 96% (Pfizer) after both doses. 

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So far, 82% of Scotland's adult population have had a single vaccination and 58.5% are now fully vaccinated.

However, the report also notes continuing uncertainties over the Delta variant, adding: "The relationship between infections and hospital occupancy appears to have changed significantly since the start of 2021 but we continue to learn more about the impact of the Delta variant, which may change this relationship again."

HeraldScotland: Source: Public Health EnglandSource: Public Health England

The most recent technical report on the Delta variant, produced by Public Health England, shows that vaccination considerably reduces - but does not eliminate - the risk of infection. 

Of the 60,624 cases in England since February 1 confirmed by genetic sequencing or genotyping to be the Delta variant, 58.6% (35,521) occurred in people who were unvaccinated. 

However, 6.7% of cases (4,087) were identified in people who had had their second vaccine dose 14 days or more before testing positive. 

There have been 73 deaths among known Delta cases, of which 34 occurred among unvaccinated individuals and 26 in people who were fully vaccinated and at least 14 days on from their second dose. 

This reflects the fact that the fully vaccinated population at this stage is disproportionately made up of people who are elderly or have pre-existing medical conditions which increase their risk of severe complications in the event of a Covid infection.