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Taoiseach downplays possibility of unused Covid-19 vaccines being available from other countries

Micheál Martin said other countries will use their vaccine supplies to protect their own populations.

File image of Taoiseach Micheál Martin.
File image of Taoiseach Micheál Martin.
Image: Sasko Lazarov

THE TAOISEACH HAS downplayed suggestions that Ireland could engage with individual states for unused Covid-19 vaccines.

Micheál Martin said other countries will use their vaccine supplies to protect their own populations.

He said Germany has “made it very clear to us that they’ll be using all the vaccines they have”. 

France is planning to give AstraZeneca vaccines to people over the age of 65.

Speaking to reporters in Galway today, Martin said: “Most countries are focused on getting their own vaccinations programmes done. 

“The issue is really around the manufacturing and the production.”

It was reported yesterday that the Health Minister Stephen Donnelly has asked the vaccine high-level task force to examine whether Ireland can procure extra vaccines in parallel with the EU supply deal.

A number of TDs had asked what was being done to get more vaccine supplies, pointing out that other countries in the EU were striking their own separate deals, including Germany.

“I have asked the task force to take at look at what other legitimate avenues might be available,” Donnelly said. 

The Taoiseach said today that a firm stance was being taken at the European Commission level and the important factor was the arrival of the filled vials from manufacturers.

He said: “AstraZeneca are saying that they will make up the shortfalls so far, but we will see as time goes on.

“We are confident of significant additional supplies.”

He expressed optimism on meeting vaccination targets over the next number of months.

The Taoiseach added: “Europe is making additional efforts to increase capacity and supply.”

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All residents and staff in nursing homes and frontline healthcare workers have been vaccinated.

Within the coming days, the last of the over 85s will receive their first vaccine dose. 

Martin added: “The vaccination programme is having an impact.

“Infection rates are coming down significantly in hospitals and nursing homes.”

Next week, vaccinations will begin of those with underlying health conditions.

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