Mark Drakeford says Wales is not in vaccination race against rest of UK

Adam Hale, PA Wales Correspondent
·2-min read

First Minister Mark Drakeford has insisted that promoting Wales’s vaccination programme as the “fastest” in the UK does not mean the country is in a race with other countries.

The Welsh Labour leader previously dismissed the importance placed on the speed of the four nations’ vaccination programmes when Wales initially fell behind the rest of the UK earlier this year.

In January this year, he told a Welsh Government press conference that vaccination was “not a sprint nor a contest” after he was criticised for Wales’ performance.

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But with Wales now leading the rest of the UK in terms of the percentage of people given a jab, Mr Drakeford and Welsh Labour have repeatedly highlighted the country’s speed of vaccination compared to other countries.

A post shared on the party’s Twitter account earlier this month said: “Your Welsh Labour Government is running the fastest, most efficient vaccine programme anywhere in the UK.”

During a campaign visit to Porth, Rhondda on Wednesday ahead of the Welsh Parliament election, Mr Drakeford said there was nothing wrong with emphasising how fast Wales’ vaccination performance now was.

He told the PA news agency: “I still say that it’s not a race with other nations, but I’ve always thought it’s an important responsibility of mine to give the people in Wales confidence in the vaccination programme that we have.

“And that’s partly because of the difficult days we had at the beginning.”

He added: “We need as many people as possible to come forward for vaccination, because that’s the best way that we will all keep one another safe.”

On Wednesday, a total of 1,800,428 first doses had been given in Wales, representing 57.1% of the population – the highest percentage in the UK.

Mr Drakeford said people in their 20s were now being invited for vaccines in Wales, which he said would soon create the conditions to allow music venues like The Factory in Porth, which he was visiting with Labour deputy leader Angela Rayner, to reopen later in the year.