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Cabinet agrees to purchase 875,000 doses of Moderna Covid-19 vaccine

The Cabinet is also due to be updated on the progress to date of the Government’s new task force on the delivery of vaccines.

CABINET HAS APPROVED an advance purchase agreement of 875,000 doses of the Covid-19 vaccine produced by Moderna.

Health Minsiter Stephen Donnelly brought a memo to Cabinet on Ireland signing up to the Covid-19 vaccine today. 

The government also agreed to the indemnification of the company and the transfer of responsibility for claims management to the State Claims Agency.

The Taoiseach said the State had signed up to six advance purchase agreements now – Moderna, AstraZeneca, Jansen, Sanofi, CureVac and Pfizer.

Micheál Martin said Ireland “will receive vaccine doses subject to market approval granted by the regulatory authorities on a population per rata basis of 1.11% of the total European Union delivery”. 

He said the State’s vaccine task force has met twice already and discussed the complex logistical challenges, including storage and transport requirements.

“It’s clear that a roll out of the vaccine would require very careful and detailed planning,” said the Taoiseach. 

He added that communications will be key in terms of promoting the vaccine. The Taoiseach said historically, vaccines have helped eradicate many killer diseases. 

“In that context, the government, working with the authorities, will obviously be promoting strongly the take up of the Covid–19 vaccine,” he said.

The Taoiseach also said the Defence Forces will be helping with the vaccination programme “from a logistics perspective”.  

A government spokesperson added that the army could have a role to play in helping out with staffing of the inoculation plan.

In terms of the indemnification, a government spokesperson said it is “the standard”, though it is not yet known if the same indemnification covers the other vaccines.

The latest vaccine to be signed up to, Moderna, has said it will apply for US and European emergency authorisation of its vaccine, based on full results from a late-stage study showing its vaccine was 94.1% effective with no serious safety concerns.

Moderna said the analysis of the phase three COVE study of the vaccine candidate, involving 30,000 participants, included 196 cases of Covid-19, of which 30 cases were severe.

Vaccine efficacy against the disease was 94.1% and vaccine efficacy against severe Covid-19 was 100%, the company reported.

It added that the jab is generally well tolerated with no serious safety concerns identified to date.

The Cabinet was also updated on the progress to date of the Government’s new taskforce on the delivery of vaccines, which met again yesterday.

Professor Brian MacCraith, who heads up the task force, said over the weekend that inoculations could start to be distributed by January.

The health minister has said that December is “unlikely” to be the month that vaccinations begin, but said he wants vaccinations to start “as soon as possible” depending on “which of the vaccines come to market first”.

Moderna vaccine

In relation to the Moderna vaccine, the company reports that efficacy was consistent across age, race and ethnicity, and gender demographics.

The 196 coronavirus cases included 33 adults aged 65 and over, and 42 participants identifying as being from diverse communities.

Based on prior analysis, the most common adverse reactions included injection site pain, fatigue, myalgia (muscle pain), arthralgia (joint pain), headache, and redness at the injection site. But these were generally short-lived, said the company.

The company said these solicited adverse reactions increased in frequency and severity in the vaccinated group after the second dose.

A Mail On Sunday/Ireland Thinks poll over the weekend found that 70% of people in Ireland would take a vaccine.

Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science Simon Harris has said there will need to be bipartisan efforts to support vaccination when one or more are approved by authorities.

Tech University for South East

On a separate matter, Harris will today update Cabinet on the progress on establishing Technological Universities across the country, in particular, progress on the delivery of a TU for the South East.

The South East is the only region in the State which does not have a university presence.

A detailed project plan covering all aspects of the project was completed in October, with the department now monitoring the progression of the plan on a monthly basis.

Harris is expected to inform government today that an application will be made by end April 2021 with a view to the TU being established, if successful, during the 2021/2022 academic year.

The minister will also confirm Munster TU will be established on 1 January 2021 next and an application for the Connacht Ulster Alliance will be made in January 2021.

Harris will also confirm a €90 million TU Transformation Fund will be distributed over the next three years by the Higher Education Authority (HEA) to support TU development.

With reporting by Press Association 

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