All adults in Wales to be offered Covid vaccine by next week

All adults in Wales will be offered a coronavirus vaccine by next Monday, First Minister Mark Drakeford has said.

If achieved, the milestone will come six weeks ahead of schedule, with the four UK nations previously saying they would offer a first dose to everyone over the age of 18 by the end of July.

An update to Wales’ vaccine strategy also comes alongside a pledge from the Welsh Government to offer second doses to all adults by the end of September.

Wales has given a first dose to 2.18 million people, or 86% of the adult population, which is currently the best record of any country in the world.

But in the UK it is behind England and Scotland for giving out both doses.

Mr Drakeford told a press conference in Cardiff on Monday that because Wales was “approaching the end of the first dose programme” his government would “switch our efforts to accelerate second doses”.

“Subject to supply, we’re confident that we can deliver second doses as fast and as successfully as we have first doses,” he said.

The updated strategy expects to deliver around 28,000 second doses every day over the summer months.

Mr Drakeford said he expected a first dose uptake of 75% across all priority and age groups, and that Wales’ success was because its programme “uses every drop of vaccine, stores it in people’s arms, not in fridges, and absolutely minimises the waste of the vaccine so we can use every single drop”.

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He said having a high level of second dose uptake “gives us more options for the future, hopefully meaning that we can live with fewer restrictions”.

The emergence of the Indian variant – also known as the Delta variant – highlighted how important it was that people complete the full two-dose course of vaccination, he said.

There are still 97 confirmed cases of the variant in Wales, with clusters located in Conwy in the north-east.

Mr Drakeford said the government was “very confident” vaccinations were breaking the link between illness and hospital admissions with the Kent variant, but more information was needed whether that was true with the latest mutation.

“The preliminary evidence is a bit mixed on it,” he said.