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HSE expects to have hundreds of thousands of vaccine doses by end of February

Speaking to TheJournal.ie, CEO Paul Reid said the level of distribution across the EU after approval will depend on capacity of the suppliers.

Image: Sam boal

THE HSE EXPECTS to have hundreds of thousands of vaccine doses by the end of February, but the supply is unlikely to surpass half a million by that time.

In a wide-ranging interview with TheJournal.ie, CEO Paul Reid said there are a number of factors relating to vaccine supply that are still uncertain as we approach the end of the year.

“One is what vaccine gets approved and when. We know about the Pfizer one and we know about 6 January for the Moderna one,” he said.

This week the European Medicines Agency (EMA) brought forward its meeting in relation to the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, which will now take place on 21 December. And yesterday European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen announced Covid-19 vaccinations will begin in EU countries from 27 December.

The first batch of Pfizer vaccines in Ireland will consist of almost 5,000 doses. Reid said the HSE is in dialogue with the manufacturer seeking to increase the number of doses in that first delivery.

“The capacity of the suppliers is unknown and what that commitment ends up being based on our 1.1% proportion of distribution (within the EU),” Reid said.

“If you take the Pfizer one alone, 2.2 million is in our document of commitment from them, which is about 1.1 million of a population vaccination.

I would certainly expect between now and the end of February, we won’t be dealing with a million, we won’t be dealing with half a million, I think we’d be dealing with less than that. We should be in the hundreds of thousands – we’d expect to be.

He said the fact that all EU countries will be trying to access the vaccine at the same time will “put pressure on Pfizer”.

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“Obviously we have a country relationship with them here, which I think helps.”

Addressing the European Parliament yesterday Ursula von der Leyen said that all the bloc’s countries could begin on the same day once the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is approved.

“To get to the end of the pandemic, we will need up to 70% of the population vaccinated. This is a huge task, a big task. So let’s start as soon as possible with the vaccination together, as 27, with a start at the same day,” she said.

“Finally, within a week, the first vaccine will be authorised so that vaccinations can start immediately, and more will follow in the new year.”

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