More than one million people in Wales are expected to have had a coronavirus vaccine by Saturday, the country’s chief medical officer has said.
Dr Frank Atherton said more than 902,000 people had already received their first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine while more than 80,000 people have had their second dose – about 2.7% of the country’s adult population.
Mr Atherton told the Welsh Government’s press briefing on Friday that Wales continued to lead the rest of the UK with the proportion of the population given both first and second jabs.
He said: “By tomorrow, we expect that our remarkable vaccination teams in all of our health boards and areas will have administered over one million vaccines, a really phenomenal performance and a key milestone.
“That’s a great success story that brings us hope, and brings us a potential way out of the coronavirus crisis that we’ve faced over the last year.”
Dr Atherton said he supported the latest Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation ( JCVI ) advice on vaccinations, which recommends an age-based approach to prioritisation, despite calls for teachers and police officers to be among the first in line.
“I want to stress that this is seen as the simplest, the quickest and the fairest approach,” Dr Atherton said.
“There’s been lots of calls from different groups and specific occupations to be prioritised.
“JCVI did look at that, it looked very carefully at that and it found there wasn’t sufficient evidence to support any specific occupational group.
“It also advised that adding complexity by going down an occupational route would slow down the pace of vaccination and it was very clear that we need to vaccinate as quickly as we can.”
Dr Atherton said that taking an age-based process would cover most of the people in the teaching and policing professions regardless.
“For example, 45% of frontline police staff are aged over 40, 60% of people in education and childcare are over 40. So that’s the easiest way and the safest way to get to those populations.”
Dr Andrew Goodall, chief executive of NHS Wales, told the briefing in Cardiff that the number of people admitted to hospitals in Wales with Covid-19 symptoms had fallen from 130 per day in January to around 70 per day.
He said around 1,650 Covid-related patients were in Welsh hospitals, a drop of 7% compared to the same point last week and the lowest number since November 19.
However, there are still a higher number of patients in hospital than at the peak of the first wave in April 2020. There are 60 Covid-related patients in critical beds in Wales, with staff supporting the equivalent of 110% occupancy.
“I need to emphasise that our overall numbers in hospitals remain high,” Dr Goodall said.
“This is serious and affects the ability of the NHS to undertake other activities. It would not take much to see these numbers go up very quickly if the virus once again spreads through our communities.
“The NHS remains very concerned that the good progress we’re now seeing could be reversed if we do not retain the right balance between NHS pressures and the gradual release of restrictions.”
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