Welsh health minister denies vaccine being held back after 'bewildering' Drakeford comments

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.

He told members during First Minister's Questions that the Welsh Government is being as "open as possible". "I'm very clear we are getting a population share of all of the vaccine supply.

"I can say the daily figures are being published - you will see an increase of delivery into next week and it's worth reflecting I am confident seven in ten over 80s in Wales would have had their first shot and seven in 10 care home residents and staff would have had their vaccine as well.

"I recognise the crucial importance.. to keep Wales safe."

Mr Gething also 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 health minister said almost 1,000 care home residents a day are being vaccinated

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."

Mr Gething said he hopes seven in 10 over 80s would have been vaccinated with their first jab Credit: Welsh Government

Mr Gething has also said every frontline paramedic in Wales has either had a jab or been offered one.

"We're really working through the population now we've got a combination of Pfizer and AstraZeneca," Mr Gething said.

"I'm expecting later this week to publish figures giving more detail about how it's being done but we do know that every frontline paramedic in Wales has either had a jab or been offered one."

Mr Gething said he expected that the over-70s in Wales would be invited for their vaccinations "in the near future".