Mark Drakeford has “clarified” comments about the rollout of the Covid-19 vaccine in Wales and the country is now going “as quickly as we can,” according to Health Minister Vaughan Gething.
Mark Drakeford’s comments made of Radio 4 yesterday were described as “astonishing” by the Welsh Conservatives, and Plaid Cymru said that “saving lives is more important than saving stocks”.
“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,” Drakeford had said on Radio 4.
But Health Minister Vaughan Gething today said that “the story in truth here in Wales is an increasing urgency and an increasing pace of delivery in our vaccine rollout”.
He was asked by the presenter why therefore Mark Drakeford claimed that he was concerned about vaccinators standing around with nothing to do. “Was he mistaken, did he misspeak, did he not misunderstand the situation?”
“Well the First Minister has clarified those comments,” Vaughan Gething said. “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.”
Vaughan Gething added that he expected Wales to vaccinate their priority groups by the same point as other UK nations despite a slower start out of the blocks.
He said that by the end of the week 70% of care home residents and over 80s will have had a jab.
“But of course every UK nation has stocks of the Pfizer vaccine that they’re keeping in freezer facilities because we all received the last delivery of Pfizer about a month ago,” he said.
“We’re all working through that as quickly as we can. Just as here in Wales, the same in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland.
“You can see the varying rates of delivery – you can see that we’ve caught up with Scotland and I expected we’re going to do even more this week.
“If you look at the international states Wales will be the fifth best-performing country in the world. But we know we’re actually going to be compared against the other UK nations, and I’m very clear that if we achieve our milestones we’ll be in the same place as other UK nations at pretty much the same time having all four of our first priority groups having their first vaccine by the middle of February. ”