Wales should be given vaccines according to its needs rather than its population, Plaid Cymru Leader Adam Price has said.
During today’s First Minister’s Questions, Adam Price questioned the First Minister on what discussions have been underway with the UK Government, and how the UK wide vaccination programme announced by the Prime Minister would be organised.
The Plaid Cymru Leader asked the First Minister to make the case for Wales’ allocation to reflect a greater than population share based on its older population.
However, the First Minister confirmed that a population share of the vaccine has been agreed.
Adam Price said that Wales was especially vulnerable to Covid-19 as a country as the population was “older, sicker and poorer on average, when compared to the rest of the UK”.
“The First Minister should commit to obtaining a share of the vaccine based on need rather than population, and he needs to provide clarity on who will be prioritised,” he said.
“Wales has some of the highest areas of infection in the UK and if – as I have called for today – the vaccine is prioritised for communities at highest risk of infection, Wales will need a greater share.
“We do not want to find ourselves in the situation where the rest of the UK can return to normal, yet Wales hasn’t had a sufficient amount of the vaccine to protect all of our most vulnerable. In a world with a working coronavirus vaccine, further lockdowns will be hard to justify. Welsh Government must provide reassurance now that they have a handle on the logistics.”
The First Minister Mark Drakeford told the Welsh Parliament that he was concerned about the “triumphalist way” in which news of the Pfizer vaccine – which could prevent up to 90 per cent of people from getting Covid-19 – had been reported by some.
He said it was “welcome” that the stage three trial for the vaccine had been met with success, but cautioned it was “not the end of the story at all”.
“I really, really do not want people in Wales to take the wrong message from what was being said yesterday,” Mr Drakeford told the Senedd.
“We will be fighting coronavirus with the current armoury that we have at our disposal for many months to come.
“While we look forward to the day when there is a vaccine, we need to be cautious in the way we approach it and not persuade people to act as though coronavirus is over and help is just around the corner.”
Yesterday, England’s deputy chief medical officer Jonathan Van-Tam said that age was likely to be the main determining factor in who will be first in line to be vaccinated.
Speaking at a press conference alongside Prime Minister Boris Johnson, he said that the vaccine developed by US drug giant Pfizer and German biotech firm BioNTech as “a very important scientific breakthrough”.
The scientist said the vaccine will not make a difference to the wave of coronavirus currently spreading throughout the UK, but said it could help in future waves.
Prof Van-Tam said he is “hopeful we could see some vaccine by Christmas” but he urged people to not “get too over-excited about where we are”.
“I’m hopeful that it may prevent future waves,” he said, “but this one we have to battle through to the end without a vaccine.”