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Taoiseach says US won't know until summer whether it can help Ireland with vaccine supplies

Micheál Martin was speaking after his virtual St Patrick’s Day meeting with US President Biden.

Image: RTÉ News

TAOISEACH MICHEÁL MARTIN has said that the United States won’t know until the summer whether it will be in a position to allow Ireland to access its Covid-19 vaccine supplies.

Speaking with reporters at Government Buildings after his virtual meeting with US President Joe Biden, Martin said America is in a similar position to Ireland regarding the sufficiency of jabs.

“I think it’s fair to say  — it was interesting, really — that the US is facing similar logistical challenges to what we are all facing in terms of getting vaccinations, getting a Covid vaccination programme in play,” Martin said.

“And I think like every other country, they’re very anxious, and [Biden] is very anxious to get as many of his people vaccinated as possible.”

Martin said Biden outlined his belief that the US would have a better understanding of “where they are, certainly towards the summer… in terms of sufficiency of vaccines”. 

Asked if they discussed plans to meet in person in 2021, Martin said “we’ll see” but added that they agreed to stay in close contact.

“[Biden] said ‘I’m just a phone call away’, and to never hesitate, he said, to get in touch about any issues,” Martin said.

President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris also held virtual meetings today with Stormont leaders for St Patrick’s Day.

In a joint statement, Deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill and First Minister Arlene Foster extended an invite to the US President to visit Northern Ireland whenever it is safe to do so.

AstraZeneca

Separately, the Taoiseach said that if the European Medicines Agency (EMA) gives its approval to the AstraZeneca vaccine tomorrow following a safety review, the HSE will “immediately endeavour” to resume administering the jab.

A number of countries across Europe, including Ireland, paused use of the vaccine in recent days following reports by the Norwegian Medicines Agency of blood clots in a number of patients.

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No causal link was established between the jab and the patients developing the clots but Deputy Chief Medical Officer Dr Ronan Glynn said the decision to pause use of the vaccine had been made on a precautionary principle.

World Health Organisation experts today recommended countries continue to use the AstraZeneca vaccine but said they were looking into its safety.

While it “might take some time as people will have to be notified again”, the Government will do “everything we possibly can to accelerate the vaccine, particularly for those who have had their vaccinations postponed”, Martin said.

Reporting by Rónán Duffy

 

 

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