Remember the Israeli vaccine miracle? Commentators across the globe heralded the speed and resourcefulness of its roll-out of the Pfizer jab. It was a willingness to take risks, the orthodoxy went, plus good technological infrastructure and a mindset orientated towards national effort that put Israel in pole position.
Fewer column inches have been expended on another vaccine roll-out miracle even though it is taking place on these islands. Wales recorded 35 cases yesterday, a rolling rate of 12.3 cases per 100,000 people over the last seven days, less than half the case rate in Scotland (28) and England (24.8).
This success is nothing to do with discipline of the Welsh people or stricter adherence to social distancing – it is the direct product of a vaccine roll-out that has proceeded faster than any other of the home nations.
What explains the Welsh miracle? Wales has not been allocated more vaccines per capita than any UK nation. Rather, it is accessing the stock faster and distributing it more quickly. Stock figures from 11 April show that the Welsh authorities distributed 93 per cent of allocated vaccines and had 91 per cent of the total stock in arms within three days of delivery. In Scotland, 90 per cent were distributed and only 82 per cent of the “jags” were in arms three days later.
In North Wales, the local health board is operating a two-track vaccination scheme with people in their 20s being offered the available stock of Pfizer or Moderna doses and over-40s the Astrazeneca vaccine, in line with the JCVI’s recommendations.
“We are adopting this pragmatic approach to ensure vaccines are not left for long periods unused,” said Gill Harris, Executive Director of Nursing and Midwifery for Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board (BCUHB).
Famous for its dragons, great poets, actors and artists, and blessed with a people of great resourcefulness and energy (those canny Rugby players, eh?), Wales can also be a model for small, technologically advanced nations. Our medical elites could do well to study its example.