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Ireland to receive 300,000 fewer vaccine doses to April due to supply issues

This is due to the “significant drop” in the expected deliveries from AstraZeneca.

Brian MacCraith of the High-Level Vaccine Task Force.
Brian MacCraith of the High-Level Vaccine Task Force.
Image: Oireachtas.ie

Updated Jan 29th 2021, 4:30 PM

IRELAND IS TO receive 300,000 fewer vaccine doses up to the end of March than was previously expected due to the supply issues related to the Oxford/AstraZeneca jab. 

Chair of the vaccination task force Brian MacCraith told and Oireachtas Committee today that that Ireland is expected to have 1.1 million doses by the end of March, down from the previously expected 1.4 million. 

This is due to the “significant drop” in the expected deliveries from AstraZeneca.

An increasingly bitter row between the EU and the company has developed as a result of AstraZeneca’s failure to reach expected deliveries.

MacCraith said it is expected that 191,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine will be delivered in February, with just 95,000 currently confirmed for March.

The reduction means that 550,000 people can be vaccinated in that period – about 150,000 fewer than the government’s 700,000 target.

MacCraith added that there is no certainty over the supply of vaccines from April onwards and the the task force was “sticking to the principle of administering vaccines as soon as they arrive”.

“We have a level of confidence for this quarter but that has been dented in the weeks and days due to AstraZeneca situation,” MacCraith said.

The assurances we had received indicated 1.4 million doses across AstraZeneca, Pfizer and Moderna and naturally the simple calculation, given they’re all dual doses, leads to 700,000 people being vaccinated.

“However, as we learned in recent days, AstraZeneca has indicated a significant drop. So currently that 1.4 million doses has dropped to just above 1.1 million doses.” 

TDs also asked a number of questions about the potential role of pharmacists in the vaccine delivery programme, with the HSE’s David Walsh saying they may be part of the vaccination of over 70s. 

Over 70s are the next cohort in line to be vaccinated after the completion of the first two priority groups; healthcare workers and those in care homes. 

TDs and senators were told that an average of 48,000 doses of vaccine have been administered per week over the past three weeks. Representatives from the HSE also said that it would be “a week or two” before daily vaccination figures could be provided. 

MacCraith was speaking before it was confirmed this afternoon that the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine was approved by the European Medicines Agency for use for all ages above 18

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German authorities said yesterday that there is insufficient evidence for its efficacy for people aged over 65.

“Obviously an awful lot depends on what we hear today as regards the AstraZeneca vaccine and whatever determination that the European Medicines Agency come to in that regard, and whether they make any comment on the age dimension, a bit like what we heard in Germany,” MacCraith said. 

“The plan originally was certainly that the AstraZeneca vaccine would be used through the GP network to address cohort number three, which is the over 70s, if for any reason that doesn’t happen, the contingency plan at this stage is to use the Pfizer/BionTech and the Moderna vaccines for that cohort.”

Asked whether this could be done through the GP system, MacCraith said that it “is a possibility” because the Pfizer/BionTech vaccine was used by GPs in the UK.  

About the author:

Rónán Duffy

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