More than a quarter of a million doses of the two Covid-19 vaccines have been received in Wales – but less than 50,000 people have received a first dose.
The Welsh Government confirmed it has had in excess of 250,000 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine and 22,000 doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca jab.
But the country lags behind all the other UK nations, with approximately 1.6% of people in Wales having been vaccinated by January 3.
That compares with England where around 1.9% of the population have received the first dose, while in both Scotland and Ireland 2.1% of people have received their first jab.
First Minister Mark Drakeford said Wales would receive 25,000 Oxford doses next week and 80,000 the week after that.
Asked about how many doses of the Pfizer vaccine Wales had received, he said: “It’s the low hundreds of thousands. The Pfizer vaccine has particular challenges in terms of the conditions that it’s got to be stored in and in parts of Wales that is a very particular challenge because it is a hard vaccine to transport over long distances to relatively scattered and remote communities.
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“But the fact that we’ve got it and the fact that we’re able to use more of it than we originally anticipated means we’ll be able to accelerate the use of it over the next couple of weeks.”
The Pfizer jabs were first administered in early December at seven sites across Wales as part of the UK-wide immunisation programme.
The Welsh Government said the new Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine would help speed up the programme “considerably”.
The rollout of the Oxford vaccine started on Monday, with 22,000 doses received this week.
Conservative MP for the Vale of Clwyd, Dr James Davies, said: “We all know that the Pfizer vaccine is difficult to transport and store and needs to be stored at -70 degrees, that’s understood.
“But the issue is that actually, if you look at the rest of the UK, including very rural areas, they’ve managed to deal with it… and it is difficult to see why they haven’t been in a position to be organised earlier and to ramp-up the delivery.”
Rhun ap Iorwerth, Plaid Cymru’s health spokesman added: “It is very worrying to find out that we have had in Wales more than 250,000 doses but only a relatively small proportion of that have yet ended up in people’s arms, protecting people, because that’s what we want to happen.”
The Royal College of Physicians has also called on health boards and Welsh Government to publish regular data showing which groups of people have been vaccinated, with patient-facing health workers prioritised over other colleagues.
Health minister Vaughan Gething said daily data would be published shortly, and added: “We’re going to get through many more people, giving them significant protection with a first vaccine.
“And that will mean that we’re going to be able to prevent most of the avoidable deaths.”