Posted: Tue 10th Nov 2020

First minister concern over ‘triumphalist’ headlines around new COVID-19 vaccine

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales
This article is old - Published: Tuesday, Nov 10th, 2020

Wales’ first minister has urged caution over news of a COVID-19 vaccine breakthrough and is concerned about euphoric reporting by the press around the development.

It was announced on Monday that a candidate vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech was found to be 90 per cent effective with no safety concerns raised.

The companies plan to apply for emergency approval to use the vaccine by the end of the month.

News of the vaccine sparked hopes of a return to normal life and a stock markets soared following an announcement by Pfizer yesterday.

During first minister’s questions in the Welsh parliament today, Mark Drakeford said: “I think there’s a lot to be concerned with the triumphalist way in which some of the right-wing press in the UK have reported Pfizer’s announcement.”

“Of course it’s welcome the stage three trial has met with success but that is not the end of the story at all.”

Mr Drakeford said: “There are very important further steps that have to be taken before that vaccine or any of the other 11 vaccines that are at stage three trials might finally come to fruition.”

But, he added: “I really do not want people in Wales to take the wrong message from what was being said yesterday.”

“We will be fighting coronavirus with a current armory that we have at our disposal for many months to come, we look forward to the day when there is a vaccine.” The first minister said.

“ We need to be cautious in the way we approach it and not persuade people to act as though coronavirus is over and help is just around the corner. It really isn’t going to be like that. ” He said.

Health minister Vaughan Gething met with other health ministers across the United Kingdom on Thursday to agree a “whole series of measures.”

First minister said Wales “will receive our population share of any vaccine once it becomes properly approved and available.”

“The planning for its storage and distribution will be in the hands of the Welsh Government.” He said.

It’s reported the Pfizer vaccine has to be stored at -70ºC which is “far different to the way a flu vaccination is stored at a GP surgery, stored in an ordinary fridge.” Mr Drakeford said.

“The logistical issues that will fall to the Welsh Government are very real, but have been in preparation for many months.” He added.

Mr Drakeford said they would use the Welsh Blood Service, who have facilities and in different parts of Wales and will be able keep it refrigerated at the correct temperature.

The vaccine has to be administered twice at a three week interval and it doesn’t become effective until the first week after the second dose of the vaccine has been delivered.

“We don’t yet know as to whether or not it will be effective in older people, and that’s particularly a challenge at moment.”

“The Welsh plan, which is very similar to plans elsewhere in the United Kingdom, is to begin with priority groups and to begin with priority staff who are capable of administering the vaccine.” Mr Drakeford said.

The Plaid Cymru Leader, Adam Price urged the first minister to make the case for Wales’ allocation to reflect a greater than population share, and called for clarity on the logistical planning underway for administering the vaccine as quickly as possible once it’s been made available.

Mr Price said: “Our vulnerability as a country has already been highlighted by the First Minister in the context of Covid-19: The population of Wales is older, sicker and poorer on average, when compared to the rest of the UK.

“The First Minister should commit to obtaining a share of the vaccine based on need rather than population, and he needs to provide clarity on who will be prioritised. Wales has some of the highest areas of infection in the UK and if – as I have called for today – the vaccine is prioritised for communities at highest risk of infection, Wales will need a greater share.

“We do not want to find ourselves in the situation where the rest of the UK can return to normal, yet Wales hasn’t had a sufficient amount of the vaccine to protect all of our most vulnerable. In a world with a working coronavirus vaccine, further lockdowns will be hard to justify. Welsh Government must provide reassurance now that they have a handle on the logistics.”


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