Reduction in the amount of vaccine Wales receives will be ‘UK-wide issue’ First Minister says
Wales will see a slight reduction in the amount of vaccine it receives over the next few weeks, the First Minister has said.
Mark Drakeford said that this was a planned UK-wide issue and won’t affect people’s appointments.
He added that there would be a slowdown of supply over the next few weeks and then an “acceleration” in March.
“Our plans based on what the UK Government has told us over the next couple weeks,” he said.
“They’ve told us that over the next few weeks there will be a small reduction in how many vaccines we have.
“It’s the UK-wide pattern. Wales is not being singled out in any way.”
Scotland also said it would have to scale back its coronavirus vaccination programme over the next two weeks as supplies into the UK dip.
The drop in supply across all four nations of the UK is being caused by work being carried out by Pfizer, the manufacturer of one of the vaccines.
The company is having to temporarily reduce output as part of an overall effort to increase manufacturing capacity amid worldwide demand for vaccines.
“This is about the supply into the UK, it is not about distribution around the UK. So it will affect all four nations of the UK,” Scottish Health Secretary Jeane Freeman said.
“We are working that through and then of course supplies start coming in again.”
He said that Wales would bid a “long good-bye” to coronavirus, and restrictions will last for many months into the future.
“We’re by no means guaranteed to have a smooth passage into the future. We’re planning that things will improve because they have improved so significantly since the start of the year.”
He earlier hinted that Easter may be the time to relax the Covid-19 lockdown if the fall in the number of people with the virus in Wales could be sustained.
He said that it was “amongst the dates that we are using in our conversations” because it was such an important period for the tourism industry.
However, he warned that with variants of the coronavirus appearing in different parts of the world that could blow their plans off course.
“Here in Wales the number of people infected with coronavirus continues to go down,” he told BBC Breakfast.
“If that can be sustained over the weeks to come then we can see a pathway into the spring in which we will be able to restore freedoms to people that they’ve had to go without while we’ve been in this second wave.
“But that is a very big ‘if’ because there are so many unknowns. New variants that are happening in many parts of the world that could make a difference here in the United Kingdom.
“But with vaccination and with numbers falling – provided we reopen society carefully and cautiously and don’t allow the virus to get away from us again – we can see a path into the spring where it will be possible for us to go back to doing some of the things that we’re all missing so much.”
Asked for specifics he said that the Welsh Government were in discussions about Easter as a possible date to reopen.
“Well, we’ve got Easter at the beginning of April this year. It’s always an important moment for our tourism and hospitality industry. We are talking with them about what might be possible around the Easter period.
“But it is still very much caveated… But if the current progress that is being made continues and in a careful and cautious way we look to reopen things. But that is amongst the dates that we are using in our conversations with businesses and workers here in Wales.”