Mark Drakeford has said claims from England’s Health Secretary Matt Hancock that Wales’ successful vaccination programme was only possible because England was keeping a stockpile were “simply factually untrue”.
Wales has vaccinated people more quickly than England despite the two nations receiving population-based shares of the UK Government’s vaccine supplies.
On Thursday, Mr Hancock said the Department of Health in England had decided to keep “enough of a buffer” for people to get their second vaccinations and held some vaccinations back in case there was an interruption to supply. You can read his comments here.
But speaking on Newsnight that was broadcast from Cardiff on Thursday, Mr Drakeford said: “It is simply factually untrue. We draw nothing out of an English buffer. We manage our own stocks, and the fact we have some of the best vaccination rates in the world is just because of the way in which the programme in Wales has been organised and delivered.”
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Earlier Mr Hancock had told the Science and Technology Committee: “I would argue that the vaccination programme demonstrates that the union saves lives and in the case of Wales, the union has helped Wales to have one of the fastest vaccination programmes in the world and I wish them every luck in the delivery of it.”
The Welsh Government tweeted its response, disputing Mr Hancock’s answer.
“The success of our world-leading vaccine programme is a result of excellent planning and the sheer hard work of vaccine teams around Wales. It is wrong to suggest we’re reliant on an “English buffer” – we have our own – we are simply more efficient at using it.”
In the interview, Mr Drakeford said that the union “wasn’t working because we don’t have the mechanisms in place for the four nations of the United Kingdom to come together, to discharge together the things that are in our common interest to go together”.
He said there had been a successful meeting with Boris Johnson last week where there were “promising signs” that they could work together better.
But he added: “What we have to do is make a convincing case for the United Kingdom. The idea that the United Kingdom is bound to go on regardless, is simply to walk into the dangers that are there. I don’t think the Prime Minister attends to it with the seriousness that is required and I think his recipe for the United Kingdom is one that will make things worse rather than better.”