Direct ferries from EU could carry Covid vaccines due to Brexit worries

A Stena Line ferry from Dublin arrives at the port in Holyhead, Anglesey in north-west Wales on October 8, 2018. - Hundreds of trucks roll off the docks at Holyhead every day, bringing goods to and from Ireland and an economic lifeline for this deprived corner of Wales, which is now threatened by Brexit. Just 73 miles (117 kilometres) from the Irish capital Dublin, the port's future will depend on how any Brexit deal affects two borders -- the one between EU member state Ireland and Britain and the one between Northern Ireland and mainland Britain. The concern for many here is that companies will start finding alternative trade routes for goods travelling between EU member Ireland and continental Europe to avoid Britain after Brexit. (Photo by PAUL ELLIS / AFP) (Photo credit should read PAUL ELLIS/AFP via Getty Images)
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Plans are being made to have Covid-19 vaccines delivered into the State by air and, if needed, by land and sea directly from mainland Europe to avoid the UK “landbridge” in case of post-Brexit delays.

Concerns about potential congestion at ports after EU-UK border controls come into effect on January 1st has led the Government’s Covid-19 vaccine task force to plan around possible logistical Brexit issues, according to reports in The Irish Times.

The task force plans to transport vaccines to the State by air freight but, in the unlikely event that air transport is not available, the vaccines will come on direct ferries from Europe, according to people familiar with the plans.

Potential stoppages on the transit route through Britain after post-Brexit border checks and inspections come into effect were considered by the task force as part of their planning for the delivery of vaccines.

Brexit congestion


Taoiseach Micheál Martin said this week that he did not expect Brexit congestion to be an issue in the deliveries and the task force’s job was “to get the logistics of this right”.

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The Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, if approved, is likely to be the first to arrive in the State early next year.

It is compact enough to be flown in large quantities, with about 1,000 doses fitting in trays the equivalent size of a pizza box.

The medicine must be kept at minus 70 degrees Celsius requiring specialised transportation.

Talks between British and European Union negotiators continued in London last night amid warnings that significant gaps remained as time was running out to reach a deal.

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