Welsh health minister denies vaccines being held back

Adam Hale, PA Wales Correspondent
·2-min read

Wales’s health minister has denied holding back coronavirus vaccines following comments by First Minister Mark Drakeford that administering jabs too quickly would leave “vaccinators standing around with nothing to do”.

Vaughan Gething said the rollout is going “as fast as possible” and that the Welsh Government is doing “a really good job” in increasing the pace of inoculations.

On Tuesday, Mr Gething said he understood the way Mr Drakeford’s comments were “interpreted” may have been unsettling, but that the Welsh Labour leader has since “clarified” that no vaccines are being held back.

Weekly rate of new Covid-19 cases in Wales
(PA Graphics)

Mr Gething told BBC Radio Wales: “I can’t be any clearer. There is pace, there is urgency, and there is real achievement. Our NHS Wales staff are working incredibly hard and they’re delivering more and more vaccines into people’s arms every single week.

“We’re not hoarding the vaccine. We’re not preventing it from being released. We’re doing as much as possible as quickly as possible.”

Mr Gething said that, by the end of this week, seven in 10 people over the age of 80 and the same proportion of care home residents and staff “should have had their first jab”.

He said he expects Wales to be “in the same position as other UK nations” in completing vaccinations of the first four priority groups by the middle of February.

The Welsh Conservatives’ health spokesman, Andrew RT Davies, said Mr Gething is trying to “brush up the mess” made by Mr Drakeford, and accused them of “rationing” the vaccine supply.

Mr Davies said: “But in some respects the First Minister didn’t make a mess. He spoke honestly about what Welsh Government policy is at the moment.”

On Monday, Mr Drakeford dismissed the differences between the UK nations’ vaccine statistics as “very marginal”, adding: “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.”