Friday, March 12, 2021

Vivienne Clarke

Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly has said that 99 per cent of the target for the vaccination of the over-85 age group has been met.

Speaking on RTÉ radio’s Morning Ireland, Mr Donnelly said that the HSE was making “significant changes” to address the issues with delivery of doses of the vaccine to general practices around the country.

The Minister acknowledged that the distribution problems had caused anxiety for patients.

Mr Donnelly also said that he had been communicating with the AstraZeneca representative for Ireland to convey the Government’s frustration with the revised volumes and delivery dates.

Supply chain issues

The representative had admitted that the company was facing “complex” problems with supply chains, said the Minister. AstraZeneca were doing everything they could and accepted that their actions were causing “real anxiety for people on the ground,” said Mr Donnelly.

“They have committed to doing everything they can to fix that.”

High level communications were also ongoing between AstraZeneca and the EU’s steering committee about supply for the European Union. Mr Donnelly said he did not think there was “any funny business going on” about supply of the vaccine to the UK and the USA.

Ireland will keep up the pressure to get the supplies that were contacted and promised, he added. Time matters, and it was important to get people vaccinated quicker so the country could open up.

When asked if the Taoiseach would raise the issue of the 30 million doses of AstraZeneca pre-ordered by the USA where it has not yet been approved, Mr Donnelly said that if Mr Martin believed it would be of use he would do so.

Virus mobility

The Minister called on the public to remain vigilant and not to let their guard down, while the number of cases was being suppressed there remained the issue of the mobility of the disease which was a cause for concern.

Meanwhile, Professor Philip Nolan, chair of Nphet’s Epidemiological Modelling Advisory Group, has called on the public not to “slip” in their behaviour and to “hold on” for a few more weeks to keep the coronavirus suppressed.

There were worrying signs of “slippage” and this could have an impact on the spread of the virus, he told RTÉ radio’s Morning Ireland.

“We’ve seen this before, we see the level of slippage. We get tired, we get lonely, mix a little bit more.”

The plea to the public, if they were slipping, was to “pull back” and help keep the virus suppressed, he added.

“In the grand scheme of things, it’s a few more weeks.”

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