THE number of over-60s needing hospital treatment for Covid has tripled in the past month, with admissions in the over-80s now outnumbering any other patient age group.

The latest data from Public Health Scotland also indicates that there were nearly as many admissions in fully vaccinated patients as unvaccinated patients last week, reflecting the high prevalence of the virus in the community and the Delta variant's ability to cause breakthrough infections.

The Herald: Source: Public Health Scotland Source: Public Health Scotland

The PHS data shows that there were 603 Covid hospital admissions in the week ending July 13, of which 243 (40%) were people aged 60 and over - an age group that is almost 100% fully vaccinated.

This compares to a total of 237 Covid admissions in the week ending June 22, of which 79 (33%) were patients aged 60-plus.

READ MORE: Why the Delta variant has left herd immunity through vaccination alone mathematically impossible 

Admissions are also increasing faster in the over-60s than the under-60s.

In patients under 60, admissions have roughly doubled over the same period - from 158 in the week ending June 22, to 360 in the week ending July 13.

The Herald: Vaccine uptake by age group, as of July 21Vaccine uptake by age group, as of July 21

In the most recent week, patients aged 80 and over also accounted for the single highest number of admissions: 94 out of 603.

There were 236 admissions among patients aged 20 to 49.

The Herald: Source: Public Health Scotland Source: Public Health Scotland

The figures come amid concerns over vaccine uptake in the young, with 30% of 18 to 29-year-olds, 19% of 30-39-year-olds, and 10% of 40 to 49-year-olds still to take up the offer of a first dose.

Nicola Sturgeon has warned that a shortfall in immunisations could "hold back our progress" back to normality.

READ MORE: Lockdown warning over slowdown in young people getting vaccinated 

It also comes after the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation recommended that vaccinations be limited only to 12 to 17-year-olds with serious health issues, making the goal of herd immunity even harder to reach.

The Herald:

Provisional data from PHS for the week ending July 16 also shows that 7,544 confirmed Covid infections out of a total of 14,449 (52%) were detected in unvaccinated individuals, although it is likely that virus cases were actually much higher once asymptomatic infections - which are more common in younger people - are taken into account.

There were 3,724 Covid infections in fully vaccinated people - representing nearly 26% of the total.

READ MORE: How can - and should - Scotland increase vaccine uptake in the young?

Among the 492 hospital admissions in the week ending July 16 where patients' vaccine status is known, 229 (46.5%) were in unvaccinated individuals and 219 (44.5%) in people who were fully vaccinated.

These figures reflect the impact of high virus prevalence in the community - not that the vaccines do not work.

Fully vaccinated patients are disproportionately older and more likely to have underlying health conditions which mean that, if they do become infected, they are much more likely to require hospital care.

Without vaccines, admissions in this demographic would be much higher and substantially outnumber those among younger, healthy patients.

The vaccines also cannot provide 100% protection against infection.

Analysis by PHS and Edinburgh University indicates that two dose of the Pfizer vaccine reduce the likelihood of symptomatic infection by 83%, and AstraZeneca by 61%.

Both reduce the risk of hospitalisation and death by more than 90%.