THE first minister has insisted that "nobody is holding back the vaccine" following comments made during an interview on Radio 4.

On Monday, January 18, Mark Drakeford told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that the supply of the Pfizer vaccine had to last until February and was not being used all at once.

“The sensible thing to do is to use the vaccine you’ve got over the period that you’ve got it for so that your system can absorb it, they can go on working, that you don’t have people standing around with nothing to do,” he said.

"There will be no point and certainly it will be logistically very damaging to try to use all of that in the first week and then to have all our vaccinators standing around with nothing to do for another month.”

The comments caused 'deep concern' and prompted a strong reaction.

Darren Millar, MS for Clwyd West, described Mr Drakeford’s approach as alarming and said lives will inevitably be lost as a result whilst Dr David Bailey, chair of the British Medical Association (BMA) in Wales, calling them "truly bewildering".

He said: "I advise Welsh Government to look again at the roll-out strategy.

“For the first minister to say that there is ‘no point’ in using all the supplies in a week to ensure vaccinators aren’t standing around with nothing to do is truly bewildering.

“Frontline staff are risking their lives to help others - the priority must be to get the second dose administered to those who have received the first, and to accelerate first doses for all remaining vaccinations to ensure maximum protection for staff and patients.

“We are asking Welsh Government to stop sitting on supplies and get on with it.”

On Monday night, the first minister moved to clarify his comments.

In a video, posted on Twitter, he said: "As of 10pm last night, 151,737 people in Wales have had their first dose of the coronavirus vaccine. In a little over a month we have reached almost five per cent of our population. That is a very strong start and everyday we are vaccination thousands more people as we speed up the biggest vaccination effort Wales has ever seen.

"We're mobilising nurses, doctors, primary care practitioners, dentists, optometrists and the military to get this done as quickly as possible and as safely as possible.

"By mid-February, we will have offered vaccinations to all frontline health and care staff, everyone living and working in care homes and everyone over 70.

"Let me be completely clear. Nobody is holding back vaccines. All our health boards are receiving doses of Pfizer as quickly as they can use it. And as a result of how the vaccine is being delivered, less than one per cent of this precious vaccine has been wasted in Wales. Way below wastage normally seen for vaccines.

"We now have more than 100 GP practices delivering vaccines and that will rise to 250 by the end of this month.

"We have 45 mass vaccination centres operating or due to open shortly."

Wales has faced criticism in the past week for vaccinating fewer people in proportion to its population than the other home nations.

Statistically the country is behind the other nations of the UK in delivering the first dose of the vaccine.

As of Saturday, four per cent of the population in Wales had been vaccinated, compared with 4.1 per cent in Scotland, 5.9 per cent in England and 7.4 per cent in Northern Ireland.