WALES is having to slow DOWN their Covid vaccination programme in Wales because of a lack of supply – so staff aren’t “standing around” wit nothing to do.
The Welsh First minister said Wales’ supply of the vaccine has to last until February and one of the batches failed a test – so they weren’t able to get them out as fast.
Speaking to Radio 4 today, he said it would be “damaging” to try and get it all out now, and instead the pace would be slowed down until more doses were available.
He said: “There will be no point, and certainly it will be logistically very damaging to try to use all of that in the first week and then to have all our vaccinators standing around with nothing to do for another month.
“The sensible thing to do is to use the vaccine you’ve got over the period that you’ve got it for so that your system can absorb it, they can go on working, that you don’t have people standing around with nothing to do.”
But he promised that the four priority groups would still be vaccinated by the end of February – as the Government has promised across the UK.
It comes amid concerns over a postcode lottery over vaccines – as some over 80s still haven’t got their first jabs but some over 70s are now getting theirs in other areas.
It comes as:
- Five million over 70s are set to start getting vaccines this week
- 24 hour vaccination clinics will begin being trialled in London
- A shocking new study showed one in eight Covid patients die within 140 days of recovery
- Police officers, teachers, supermarket staff and other key workers could be next in line for the jab
Of the four nations of the UK, Wales is lagging behind in delivering the first dose of the vaccine per 100,000.
As of last week 3,215 had received it in Wales, compared with 3,514 in Scotland, 4,005 in England and 4,828 in Northern Ireland.
Mr Drakeford hit back today, saying: “These are very marginal differences and I don’t think these are the most important issue.”
“The thing that limits us at the moment is supply and we’re using every bit of the vaccine that we are getting.
“We know that that supply will be ramping up rapidly over the coming weeks and we are ready to use all the supply that we are getting in Wales and on track to deliver vaccination to the priority groups.”
He told Sky News one of the four batches of the Oxford vaccine his country was due to receive this week had failed testing and it will come next week instead.
He said: “Everybody is working absolutely flat out from the manufacturers through to the people who do the vaccination at the practical end.
“When you’re trying to do everything on a massive scale and at such speed there are going to be moments where not everything goes according to plan.
“But we are assured we will get that supply in exchange for this week next week, and we will be able to use it all then.”
He also revealed coronavirus cases in Wales had halved since Christmas – with rates now down to 300 cases per 100,000, down from 650 – showing the nation has “begun to turn the corner”.
He defended the decision to plunge Wales into a lockdown just before Christmas – whereas England did not follow suit until early in the New Year.
It will be the middle of February before any lockdown measures are lifted there, he added.
He said: “We will do it carefully we will do it cautiously and we will do it in a way that will not throw away all the efforts and the gains that we have made since Christmas.”
Earlier vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi suggested it could be a few weeks after the middle of February – taking it to early March – before lockdown measures started to be relaxed.
Once the bulk of the most at-risk Brits have had a jab the drastic restrictions could finally start to be relaxed, Mr Zahawi said.