Mark Drakeford grilled over Wales vaccine rollout by host
The Labour Welsh First Minister told BBC Radio 4’s Today his Government is “on track to deliver vaccines to all the priority groups” as it is “ready to use all the supply” it has received by Pfizer and AstraZeneca. But BBC host Martha Kearney challenged Mr Drakeford over his decision to hold onto half of the doses allocated so far to Wales. She said: “Are you really using all the supplies? Because my understanding is that you’re only using half of the doses that you’ve been given.
“And when you were asked about this you said that you were providing it on a week by week basis.
“Why not roll out all the doses immediately?”
The Welsh First Minister replied: “We’re using all the Oxford vaccines that we’re getting as we’re getting.”
“Why not use all the Pfizer doses?”, the BBC host erupted.
Mr Drakeford continued: “The Pfizer vaccines we have have to last us until the beginning of February. We won’t get another delivery of that until the very end of January and probably the beginning of February.
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“Therefore we have to use that over that six-week stretch.
“There will be no point 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 the BBC host blasted: “But you would have vaccinated a lot of people and made a lot of people safer!”
Mr Drakeford said things are “improving slowly” in Wales.
“We were badly hit before Christmas because of a combination of reasons,” he said.
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“Certainly, the arrival of the new variant was having an impact upon our numbers before we realised that this new variant was here.
“Our population – older, sicker, poorer, living close together in close-knit communities – there’s no doubt that those are the conditions in winter months where coronavirus thrives, and we saw the impact of that, but that is why we took action early.
“I say in a tentative way, we’re seeing the positive impact of that and we will be working as hard as we can with those fantastic people in our health service who have given so much to build on that further.”
The Welsh First Minister also told Sky News one of the four batches of the Oxford vaccine his country was due to receive this week had failed testing.
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“One of those batches has not come through the testing process and we will get it next week we’re told instead,” Mr Drakeford 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.”
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