Wales defends vaccine rollout speed as England delivers 22 times more jabs

Wales’ First Minister has defended his nation’s slower vaccine rollout after England delivered 22 times the country’s amount of Covid jabs in the same week.

In the week leading up to January 10, England completed 858,258 first doses of Covid vaccines, while Wales saw 38,426 people receive the jab. Scotland vaccinated 48,440 people, and Northern Ireland 38,395.

England has a larger population than Wales, with 55.98 million inhabitants compared to 3.13 million – but data shows Wales is also proportionately behind in the amount of jabs being delivered per 100,000 people.

As of last week, these figures revealed 3,215 people had received the vaccine in Wales, compared to 3,514 in Scotland, 4,005 in England and 4,828 in Northern Ireland.

Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford has now said there are ‘very marginal differences’ between each nation. He noted that his government had to spread out vaccinating people because the country’s limited supply of the Pfizer vaccine has to last until February. 

He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: ‘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 with for another month.’

Mr Drakeford added that he expects to ramp up vaccinations when Wales receives more supplies, including the Oxford vaccine. 

He told Sky News: ‘There’s a long way to go with vaccination – we’re going to be doing this for months and months, not just for weeks.

‘At the moment, the thing that is limiting us is just the volume of supply, we could vaccinate more people than we’ve got vaccines. But we also know that that, too, is going to increase rapidly over the coming weeks.’

One batch of the Oxford vaccine meant to arrive this week ‘failed testing’ and has been delayed until next week, he said.

‘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,’ said Mr Drakeford. 

Welsh Conservative shadow health minister Andrew RT Davies said: ‘Whether intended or not, this outburst of honesty from the First Minister tells the Welsh people all they need to know.

‘The Welsh Labour Government is failing to deliver its vaccine programme. His shocking doubling-down on his decision to delay deployment of Pfizer vaccine supplies is dangerous, and makes no clinical sense whatsoever.

‘We need to get these vaccinations into people’s arms ASAP. Lives and livelihoods across Wales are at stake.’

Conservative former Welsh Secretary Stephen Crabb added: ‘Some astonishing comments this morning from Labour’s First Minister in Wales defending his go-slow vaccination strategy. Over-80s in Wales desperate to know when their vaccinations will be starting.’

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