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'Game-changer' AstraZeneca vaccine will NOT land in Ireland before it is approved

Health Minister Stephen Donnelly had said he had hoped it could arrive sooner.

A nurse holds a vial of the vaccine.
A nurse holds a vial of the vaccine.
Image: PA Images

TAOISEACH MICHEÁL MARTIN has said the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine will not be delivered to Ireland until after it is approved by the European Medicines Agency (EMA), despite hopes that it could come sooner.

The EMA is due to make a decision on the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine on 29 January and Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly had said over the weekend that he had hoped to have the vaccine here so it could be used “the moment” it was authorised. 

Donnelly had said however there would be “regulatory hurdles” to this and that the company itself may not do it. 

Speaking in the Dáil this afternoon, Martin scotched any hopes of an early delivery of the vaccine, saying it would begin arriving in the middle of next month.

“We have a much more comprehensive and detailed plan in terms of ramping up then the volume for the next phase, particularly after the authorisation of the AstraZeneca vaccine, which should be on the 29 January with from the EMA and then delivery for their timeline for mid-February,” the Taoiseach said.

That would be followed then by the Janssen vaccine, sometime a month after that in terms of authorisation a then a little bit later on we’ll be getting more supplies of Pfizer/BioNtech and Moderna. 

When the AstraZeneca vaccine is delivered it will allow weekly vaccinations to increase to 100,000, Tánaiste Leo Varadkar said last week.

The vaccine has been described as a “game changer” because it does not require the ultra-cold temperatures of the two mRNA vaccines that are currently approved for use in the EU.

This means delivery and storage of the vaccine is easier, less costly and more suited to a mass roll-out.

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Rónán Duffy

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