Speed of roll-out down to availability of vaccine, says Stephen Donnelly

ireland
Speed Of Roll-Out Down To Availability Of Vaccine, Says Stephen Donnelly
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Vivienne Clarke

Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly has described the roll-out of the Covid-19 vaccine as “a new chapter in our fight” against the virus.

“This is a fantastic day,” he told RTÉ radio’s News at One.

The only constraint on the speed of the vaccination programme was the availability of the vaccine in Ireland, he said, but he was hopeful that once the European Medicines Agency approved the Moderna and AstraZeneca vaccines then the process could be “ramped up.”

The Government was following clinical advice about the roll out of the programme. “We’re going to do it right, we’re going to do it safely and efficiently.”

Cabinet meeting

Mr Donnelly said he was cognisant of issues in other countries where deliveries had not happened as expected. Ireland’s vaccination plan will be based on doses already delivered.

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The Minister confirmed that an “unscheduled” Cabinet meeting will take place on Wednesday because of concerns about the rapid and “exponential growth” in the number of cases in recent days.

Last week 234 people had been hospitalised with Covid-19, that figure had risen to 409 on Tuesday which was further cause for concern, he said. Ireland did not want to be in the same position as the UK where the NHS was overwhelmed with Covid-19 cases.

Nphet advice

The Cabinet will be looking at the advice of National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet) which remained that there should be a return to “full” Level 5 restrictions which would mean the closure of non-essential retail along with gyms and leisure centres.

However, the Minister said that regardless of what level of restrictions the country was at, the advice remained to limit the number of contacts. Some people diagnosed as positive in recent days had “up to 30 close contacts”.  Social events were happening with too many people attending, he said.

The Cabinet’s position remained that schools should open next week as school was a safer place for children than the community.

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