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Coronavirus vaccine should be available to Irish public by mid-2021, Martin says

Taoiseach Micheál Martin said it would be available to priority groups before then.

Image: Leah Farrell

A CORONAVIRUS VACCINE should be available to the general public by the middle of next year, and available earlier than that for priority groups. 

Taoiseach Micheál Martin told RTÉ’s News at One that “hopefully” a SARS-CoV-2 vaccine would be available to priority groups in the first half of 2021, and that it would be available to the rest of the population by the middle of next year.

“Look, I don’t have precise knowledge on this yet because a lot depends on the clinical trials coming through the regulatory authorities in Europe and the FDA in the United States, and then going into distribution, logistics, and manufacturing as well.”

When asked if that estimate was based on the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine and other vaccines continuing to prove effective and pass regulatory checks, Martin said yes.

“To be fair, Pfizer for example have been saying for quite some time that they would be where they are now and they’re on target to be fair to them. Other companies, like the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine seems to be on target.

“So far, they’re more or less in line with what we were told, maybe two or three months ago,” he said.

‘Never in history’

Today, the head of the World Health Organization hailed the rapid progress towards a Covid-19 vaccine but insisted that every country had to reap the benefits.

“A vaccine will be a vital tool for controlling the pandemic, and we’re encouraged by the preliminary results of clinical trials released this week,” Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said, in closing the WHO’s annual assembly.

US pharmaceutical giant Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech announced this week that their candidate vaccine had proven 92% effective in ongoing final phase trials involving more than 40,000 people, less than a year after the novel coronavirus emerged.

“Never in history has vaccine research progressed so quickly. We must apply the same urgency and innovation to ensuring that all countries benefit from this scientific achievement,” said Tedros.

The EU’s vaccine order

The European Commission is to authorise a contract for up to 300 million doses of the BioNTech and Pfizer vaccine, which its President Ursula von der Leyen called “the most promising so far”. 

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It has also put in orders for three other vaccines in development: 300 million doses of the Oxford-AztraZeneca vaccine, with an option to buy 100 million more; up to 300 million doses of the Sanofi-GSK vaccine; and 200 million Janssen Pharmaceutica NV vaccines, with the possibility to purchase a further 200 million.

Once a vaccine becomes available, von der Leyen said the plan is to “deploy it quickly everywhere in Europe”.

With reporting from AFP

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