By Tony Winterburn • 18 January 2021 • 12:20
Wales to lift nearly all lockdown restrictions.
Welsh Minister Says Holding Back Thousands Of Doses Of Vaccine ‘Isn’t The Most Important Issue’.
Wales’ First Minister, Mark Drakeford, has said the vaccination rollout being slower than the rest of the UK ‘isn’t the most important issue’ at the moment. Latest figures show that the UK has a much higher vaccination rate than Wales, however, Mr Drakeford doesn’t agree and said there are only “very marginal differences”.
UK government figures show 126,375 people in Wales, 4% of the population, have received their first jab so far that is compared to 6% in Northern Ireland, 4.1% in Scotland and 4.9% in England. The figures also show that vaccinations are not happening at the same rate around Wales with the rollout happening slowest, relative to population, in Cardiff, Aneurin Bevan and Betsi Cadwaldr.
The First Minister, in defence os the slow rollout said: “The most important issue is that we are on track to deliver vaccination to all the top four priority groups, alongside all the other nations of the United Kingdom by the middle of February. The thing that limits us at the moment is supply. We are using every bit of vaccine that we are getting. We know that the supply will be ramping up over the coming weeks and we are ready to use all the supply of vaccine that we will get in Wales, and on track to deliver to the top four priority groups.”
The First Minister also said Wales was using all the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, which is made in the UK and can be kept in a fridge, as they get it. But he defended keeping back tens of thousands of doses of the Pfizer vaccine that had been given to Wales as he went on to explain that it had to last until the beginning of February.
“We won’t get another delivery of that until the end of January, probably the beginning of February,” he said. “We have to use that over that six-week stretch. It would be logistically very damaging to try and use all of that in the first week, and then to have all our vaccinators standing around with nothing to do for another month.”
Wales has so far received 250,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine, which is made in Belgium and has to be stored at -70C. As of last week, they had used less than half, in total, only 126,375 people had received their first dose of either vaccine by Friday last week.
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