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Taoiseach told UK not in position to give surplus vaccines to Ireland

Micheal Martin said that Boris Johnson’s first priority is to vaccinate people living in the UK as Ireland struggles to meet vaccine targets.


Taoiseach Micheal Martin (Julien Behal Photography/PA)

Taoiseach Micheal Martin (Julien Behal Photography/PA)

Taoiseach Micheal Martin (Julien Behal Photography/PA)

Taoiseach Micheal Martin has been told by Boris Johnson that the UK is not in a position to give surplus Covid-19 vaccines to Ireland.

Mr Martin said the Prime Minister’s first priority is to vaccinate people living in the UK.

Ireland is struggling to meet its vaccine targets following a number of delivery issues.

These are affecting the Government’s vaccine programme, with question marks over its plan to roll out one million vaccines in April.

Mr Martin said he was “disappointed” with some of the issues relating to the vaccine supply.

Speaking on Tuesday, Mr Martin said: “The British Prime Minister has made it clear to me that obviously his first priority is to vaccinate his people.

“It would be helpful to Ireland if the situation arose, but right now he has to concentrate on vaccinating his own people.

“Until then, he won’t be in a position to give vaccines to anybody and he has made that point to me, which I thought was fairly obvious at the outset.”

Asked about the supply, Mr Martin said: “We are disappointed with quarter one in terms of the issues, but in terms of protecting the most vulnerable, we have made progress on that and the impact of the vaccines is very positive.

We are making progress as a country, and the adherence to the regulations does matter, particularly in context of a variantMicheal Martin

“We have seen that in terms of healthcare workers, hospitals and in nursing homes in particular, and now out in the community in the over-80s. That is good news.

“We have very good vaccines that are giving protection to people as well.”

On Tuesday, Health Minister Stephen Donnelly said delays securing scheduled deliveries of AstraZeneca jabs were hampering efforts to roll out vaccinations.

“There’s no question the repeated revisions from AstraZeneca are very frustrating for Ireland and right across the EU,” he told RTE.

But the minister highlighted that 95% of jabs that were arriving in Ireland were being administered within a seven-day timeframe.

He said the evidence showed vaccines were having an “amazing effect” on infection rates among the cohorts who were receiving them.

“The good news is the vaccines are incredibly effective, way beyond anything certainly anyone I’ve spoken to in the last year would have thought,” he said.

“Where they’re being deployed they’re being deployed well and the HSE’s job essentially is to get them out to the priority groups as soon as they come into the country and while the estimated supply has come down – the figure we’ve been working to for the end of March was about 1.2 million, that looks closer to 1.1 million because of the latest revision from AstraZeneca – I think it’s important for people to know the amount of work that’s going on.

“So, believe it or not, 95% of the vaccines that are coming into the country are being administered to the priority groups within seven days.

“It’s not all perfect, it hasn’t all been flawless, but I think great credit goes to thousands of women and men right across Ireland who are making that possible.”

Ireland has extended its lockdown restrictions until April 5 and Mr Martin said the Government will review the Level 5 restrictions in a number of weeks.

He added: “We will take the advice from Nphet (National Public Health Emergency Team) and public health, and concentrate on the areas already identified in terms of the sporting and outdoor activity that we indicated we would look at. It will depend on where the numbers are.

“We are making progress as a country and the adherence to the regulations does matter, particularly in context of a variant.

“We are taking the pressure off the frontline workers. We will be in a better position before April 5 to make informed decisions.”

A further 30 Covid-19 linked deaths were reported in Ireland on Tuesday. Nphet also confirmed another 311 positive cases.

As of 8am on Tuesday, 397 Covid-19 patients were in hospital, of whom 95 were in intensive care units.


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