Is Wales paying the price for lack of vaccine preparedness?

During First Minister’s Question’s yesterday (January 19), Paul Davies MS – the Leader of the Opposition in the Welsh Parliament questioned the readiness of the Welsh Government for the deployment of a COVID vaccine.

Leader of the Opposition, Paul Davies MS

Mr Davies referred to minutes of six Welsh Government Cabinet meetings that details topics of discussion as diverse as transport strategy, the Building Safety White Paper, and broadening the role of firefighters – but not a Covid vaccine strategy.

Speaking later, Conservative Mr Davies said: “This is another case in just two days where ‘bewildering’ is the only appropriate word to describe the action, or inaction, of the Welsh Government.

“Yesterday, it was the BMA that said the First Minster’s comments on holding back stocks of the vaccine were bewildering; today, its Welsh Conservative reaction to an almost negligent lack of preparedness two months ago for the rollout of the Covid vaccine.

“The Pfizer vaccine was certified for use in early November 2020, yet nowhere is a programme of vaccination even referred to in Cabinet papers. Clearly, we in Wales now are paying the price for the Welsh Government’s inertia, dithering, and delay in November. Lives, and livelihoods, are at stake now as much as ever, and the First Minister must ensure that the vaccination programme makes up for lost time.”

Andrew RT Davies MS – the Shadow Health Minister – has said that contradictory messaging from the Welsh Government is likely to lead to increased confusion – and anxiety – among people in Wales waiting for the Covid vaccine.

Shadow Health Minister, Andrew RT Davies MS

Mr Davies made his comments after the Education Minister contradicted earlier statements made about the reasons for the delay in delivering the vaccination programme. On Radio 4’s Today programme, the First Minister said that Wales is not using all its available Pfizer vaccine because he does not want to leave vaccinators “standing around with nothing to do” for weeks.

Just hours later, at the regular Welsh Government news conference, the Education Minister denied that Welsh Government was doing anything to delay the use of the Pfizer vaccine, instead talked about the need to go faster and to build up infrastructure and minimise wastage.

Mr Davies said: “People, especially in the vulnerable groups or those over 80, will today be wondering just what to believe from the Welsh Government, just what it’s doing, and just when they will receive their vaccinations.

“This contradictory and confusing messaging from Welsh Government ministers will allay no-one’s concerns and will likely add to their anxiety.

“These ministers have clearly not grasped the necessity for an efficient vaccines programme, and their dithering and delay highlights again the need for a dedicated Vaccines Minister tasked with this one function.”

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