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Paul Reid says Covid-19 vaccine rollout to start on Tuesday instead of Wednesday

Ireland’s inoculation rollout had been expected to begin four days after receiving the vaccine, which medical professionals had questioned.

Image: Photocall Ireland

Updated Dec 27th 2020, 1:25 PM

HSE CHIEF PAUL Reid has said that Covid-19 vaccines will begin to be administered in Ireland on Tuesday – a day earlier than had been expected.

A number of people in the medical profession, including the head of the Medical Council, had questioned why Ireland was waiting four days to administer the Covid-19 vaccine. Yesterday, the first batches of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine arrived in Ireland. 

Reid was asked on RTÉ’s This Week programme as to why Covid-19 vaccines weren’t administered today, and he replied “we want to do this right”.

Earlier, Tánaiste Leo Varadkar said that Ireland might start out slow with its vaccination programme but it will be accelerated as more vaccines come on stream.

The first doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine arrived into Ireland yesterday, but the first vaccinations aren’t scheduled to take place until Wednesday.

When asked about this on Newstalk’s On The Record, Varadkar said he wasn’t sure exactly why Ireland was waiting.

“What I’m told is that it just takes a couple of days to organize things and while you could’ve done a few people, if you like, in the initial days, the authorities thought it was better to start on Wednesday and start it properly,” said Varadkar.

According to Varadkar, Ireland will likely start vaccinations a little bit slower compared to other countries around the world, but the programme will be accelerated as more vaccines are approved by the EU.

A significant reason behind Varadkar’s reasoning is that the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine could be approved by the end of January, with Ireland having a significant number of doses preordered.

“We’ve preordered a huge number of them, more so than we did for Pfizer and also that one doesn’t require deep cold-chain. That’s a more normal vaccine that we’d be used to using in GP surgeries and pharmacies that only needs to be refrigerated.

“The kind of scheme that you’re seeing now in the papers looks slow, but it can be accelerated and will be accelerated as those other vaccines come online.”

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Positivity rates

It comes as HSE CEO Paul Reid says that Ireland has seen a significant increase in testing and tracing volumes.

In a tweet, Reid said that Ireland’s community positivity rate is now at 10%, with close contacts now averaging at 5 people. 

There has also been a significant rise in tracing calls, rising from 10,000 to over 30,000 per week.

“Please review New Year Plans to keep safe,” said Reid.

Updated by Gráinne Ní Aodha

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