Wales’ Health Minister Vaughan Gething has accused BBC journalist and newsreader Huw Edwards of promoting an “incendiary comment” over the rollout of vaccine to front line staff.
It comes after the Welsh Government were criticised this week over the pace of the vaccine rollout and comments by the First Minister saying that vaccinators would be “standing around with nothing to do” if they used all their Pfizer vaccines at once.
Huw Edwards posted a message on social networking site Twitter saying that he had been sent a message from a frontline NHS doctor which read: “Worth asking if the deliberate withholding of vaccine from frontline staff would be a criminal act if one of the frontline staff now dies of COVID.”
However, Vaughan Gething hit back saying: “We are not deliberately withholding the vaccine from front line staff. Pretty incendiary comments to promote Huw.
“We will increase delivery pace again this week and continue to follow the Chief Medical Officer of Wales and Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation advice on the time between jabs to protect the greatest number of people.”
The Welsh Government have said that they will vaccinate all care home residents and staff and frontline health and social care staff by mid-February.
Vaughan Gething said this week that he is confident that 70% of over-80s and 70% of care home residents and staff will have been given their first jab by the end of the weekend.
‘Not holding any back’
Yesterday Vaughan Gething “clarified” the First Minister’s comments about the rollout of the Covid-19 vaccine in Wales and said the country was now going “as quickly as we can”.
He said that “the story in truth here in Wales is an increasing urgency and an increasing pace of delivery in our vaccine rollout”.
“The First Minister has clarified those comments. And made clear that were not holding any vaccine back. Our challenge has always been having enough infrastructure to deliver the Pfizer jab and without wasting it. On wastage in Wales we have a really good story to tell, less than 1% of our vaccine has not been delivered. That’s a very, very high level of efficiency in what we’re doing.
“So we’re able to roll out the vaccine in a way we can deliver more and more of it. This week we’ll deliver even more of our Pfizer vaccine than last week.”
Asked on Radio 4 Today on Monday why Wales had the lowest rate of vaccination of all four nations, Mak Drakeford had answered: “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.”