The First Minister Mark Drakeford has been criticised for an “astonishing” defence of the decision to hold back on vaccines rather than rolling them all out as soon as possible.
Speaking on Radio 4 Today he said that the supply, delivered by the UK Government, was limited and that the sensible thing was to use up the vaccine stock they had over the period that they had it.
“There would be no point and certainly it would be logistically damaging to use up all our vaccines in the first week and have our vaccinators standing around with nothing to do,” he said.
Shadow Health Minister Andrew RT Davies: “Astonished to hear this morning Labour’s First Minister Mark Drakeford doubling-down on his decision to delay deployment of Pfizer vaccine supplies.
“Lives and livelihoods across Wales are at stake. Stop the excuses and just make it happen.”
Asked on Radio 4 Today why Wales had the lowest rate of vaccination of all four nations, Mak Drakeford answered: “Well these are very marginal differences, and I don’t think it’s the most important issue.
“The most important issue is that we are on track to deliver vaccination to all the top four priority groups alongside all the other nations of the United Kingdom by middle of February.
“The thing that limits us at the moment is the supply. We are using every bit of the vaccine that we are getting. We know that supply will be ramping up rapidly over the coming weeks and we are ready to use all the supply of the vaccine that we will get in Wales, and on track to deliver the vaccination to the top four priority groups.”
The presenter then asked: “Are you really using all the supplies because as I understand it you have only used half the doses that you’ve been given, and when you were asked about this you said you were providing it on a week by week basis? Why not roll out al the doses immediately?”
“Well, we’re using all the Oxford vaccine that we’re getting as we get it. The Pfizer vaccine that we have has to last us until the beginning of February. We won’t get another delivery of that until the very end of January or probably in the beginning of February. Therefore we have to use that over that six-week stretch.
“It would be no point, I think, and certainly it would be logistically very damaging, to try and use all of that in the first week and then have all our vaccinators standing around with nothing to do for another month.”
“But you will have vaccinated a lot of people and made a lot of people safer!” the presenter said.
“And the system we would have would not be in a position to carry on doing the job we need to do over the weeks ahead. The sensible thing to do is to use the vaccine that you’ve got over the period that you’ve got it for. So that your system can absorb it, can go on working, so that you have people standing around with nothing to do.
“We will use all the vaccine we have in the time that we have it for, and as more comes on track we will use all of that as well. We will vaccinate all four priority groups by the middle of February, alongside everywhere else in the United Kingdom.”