Government requests early delivery of AstraZeneca vaccine to ease rollout
The government has requested that shipments of the University of Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine be delivered early so it is ready to be administered as soon as it is is approved by regulators.
Ireland is entitled to some 3.3m doses of the vaccine, which is cheaper and easier to store than rival vaccines from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna, and has been described as a ‘game changer’.
It is expected to be approved for use in two weeks’ time, and Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly has made a request to secure shipments in advance of its rollout.
The Sunday Business Post today reported that talks were taking place in an effort to accelerate the national immunisation programme, which has been criticised for being slow despite progress in recent days.
Three pop-up vaccination sites in the Phoenix Park, Portlaoise and Galway were erected this weekend to administer the vaccine to GPs and staff at healthcare facilities nationwide.
Tanaiste Leo Varadkar informed the Dail on Thursday that the AstraZeneca vaccine is due for approval by the European Medicines Agency on January 29th
Its expected approval will allow the number of weekly vaccinations in Ireland to double from 50,000 to 100,000, Mr Varadkar said.
Just over 77,000 first doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine had been administered up to Thursday, according to the latest figures from the Department of Health.
Some 72,864 cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed in the past 14 days, and Ireland now has a 14-day incidence rate per 100,000 of population of 1,530.2.
The National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) on Saturday night confirmed a further 3,231 cases of coronavirus and 60 additional deaths.
There were 1,854 COVID-19 patients in hospital yesterday evening of which 191 were in ICU, with 119 hospitalisations in the previous 24 hours.
‘The improvements in cases is not happening fast enough. Too many people are still not complying as fully as we need with the advice,’ Chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan said.
‘There are early indications that we may be levelling off in terms of improvement, but at far, far too high a level of infection. The UK variant is very likely making our challenge more difficult.
‘Please follow the public health advice. The safest place at the moment is at home. Please stay at home.’