Mark Drakeford has sparked outrage over the vaccine roll-out in Wales by saying that Pfizer doses are deliberately being held back for use. Drakeford told BBC Radio 4 yesterday: "The Pfizer vaccine we have has to last us until the beginning of February. We won't get another delivery of that until the very end of January or probably the beginning of February. Therefore, we have to use that over that six-week stretch".
As if this astonishing admission wasn't bad enough, the First Minister added: "There would be no point, I think, and certainly it would be logistically very damaging, to try and use all of that in the first week and to have all our vaccinators standing around with nothing to do". No point, really? How about the fact that people are dying of coronavirus in Wales right now?
We've featured Drakeford's interview in our latest YouTube video (watch below).
The backlash was swift. The chair of the British Medical Association in Wales called Drakeford's revelation 'bewildering'.
"I’m deeply concerned by the comments I’ve heard today and advise Welsh Government to look again at the roll-out strategy. For the First Minister to say that there is ‘no point’ in using all the supplies in a week to ensure vaccinators aren’t standing around with nothing to do is truly bewildering. Frontline staff are risking their lives to help others - the priority must be to get the second dose administered to those who have received the first, and to accelerate first doses for all remaining vaccinations to ensure maximum protection for staff and patients. We are asking Welsh Government to stop sitting on supplies and get on with it". Dr David Bailey, Chair of the British Medical Association Wales
The Conservatives' Andrew RT Davies also condemned what he called Drakeford's 'outburst of honesty': "His shocking doubling-down on his decision to delay deployment of Pfizer vaccine supplies is dangerous and makes no clinical sense whatsoever. Lives and livelihoods across Wales are at stake".
The backlash led to denials from Welsh government figures that doses were being held back, but there was simply no coming back from Drakeford's crystal clear statement.
This is not the first time the Welsh government has been accused of dragging its feet as the death toll mounts. Both Drakeford and his health minister Vaughan Gething have expressed the view that the vaccination programme is 'not a sprint'. Like the UK government, they are at pains to add that the pandemic will take 'months' to resolve, and like the UK government any thought of relinquishing the current level of control over our lives is frowned upon.
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