UK Covid live: Dido Harding rejects claims test and trace only having marginal impact on transmission

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Latest news: Dido Harding facing questions from public accounts committee; UK records 599 further Covid deaths and 37,535 cases

There has been a row in Wales today about whether or not the government there is delaying the distribution of some vaccine doses. Mark Drakeford, the first minister, said that it was, but Kirsty Williams, the education minister, said that it wasn’t. (See 4.08pm.)

This is what a Welsh government spokesman in an attempt to clarify the matter.

The Pfizer vaccine comes in large packs, which cannot be split and must be stored at ultra-low temperatures – at minus 70C.

There are only two centres in Wales where we can keep them at this temperature. Once removed from storage, the vaccine lasts five days.

Earlier at the public accounts committee hearing David Williams, the second permanent secretary at the Department of Health, would not deny reports that some consultants working on test and trace had been paid £7,000 per day. When asked about those reports, he said he did not want to comment on specific contracts. But he claimed that consultancy firms were not charging their normal public sector rate, and that he did not think they were taking advantage of the government.

These are from Andy Cowper, a Health Service Journal columnist.

“I don;t want to get into the specific detail of individual contracts”, DHBSC’s David Williams tells @CommonsPAC when asked about TAT consultants £7,000 day rate. He should be pulled on that immediately.

That is literally what Williams is there to do. But he carries on with un-evidenced round objects about consultants “dropping their usual pubic sector day rate”. Is that going to be challenged?

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