Ireland breaks ranks to admit ‘real problem’ over EU’s struggling coronavirus vaccine plan

Coronavirus vaccine: European Union citizens receive their jabs

AstraZeneca has warned supplies to Europe will be delayed due to problems with the company’s supply chain in Europe. Amid the possibility of a delay in the delivery of the drug to Ireland, Mr Martin admitted there may be severe problems to the country’s vaccine rollout. The critical delay in the EU’s vaccine rollout procedure, which was spearheaded by the European Commission, could now mean a delay to vaccinating the over-70s in Ireland.

Mr Martin also expressed concern over Ireland ability to move to a mass vaccine strategy going forward into the spring.

Speaking to RTE, he said: “Astra-Zeneca combined with extra volumes of Pfizer/BioNTech was going to be the catalyst for us to move from a low level of administration of vaccine to a mass vaccination situation.

“Now AstraZeneca puts a real problem in our midst, but we’re gonna have to deal with it and see what else we can do.”

The EU had ordered 400 million doses for member states of the drug developed with Oxford University last summer.

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Armed with the promise of the vaccine, many member states built their own strategies around having access to the vital drug.

This year, Ireland had expected to receive 600,000 doses of the drug in the first quarter, prior to the European Medicines Agency approving the vaccine.

While EU states wait for the approval of the drug, the UK has surged forward with its own vaccination programme and today reported 478,248 further doses.

This means the UK has now vaccinated 5,861,351 people across the country with a first shot of the vaccine after approving both the AstraZeneca and Pfizer-BioNTech drugs.

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In order to vaccinate as many people as possible, the UK has deployed a single-shot strategy.

The vaccines need to have a gap of up to three weeks for both to reach their full efficacy but the Government has stated a 12-week window is sufficient.

With the coronavirus picture worsening on the continent, France’s health watchdog has now advised a six-week delay should be used in administering the drug.

The Haute Autorité de la Santé has now called for a delay of six weeks in order to give out more jabs.

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They said today: “The still high number of contaminations and the worrying arrival of new variants call for an acceleration of vaccination to face the risk of an outbreak of the epidemic in the coming weeks.

“The still high number of contaminations and the worrying arrival of new variants call for an acceleration of vaccination to face the risk of an outbreak of the epidemic in the coming weeks,”

The EU’s vaccine rollout has come under scrutiny after delays to the Pfizer-BioNTech drug.

The companies decided to reduce the number of vials they had planned to send out due to supply chain changes.

This has caused serious issues with vaccination programmes across the continent with many member states calling for additional help.

Stella Kyriakides, the European Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, said on Twitter following the delay to AstraZeneca’s drug: “EU Commission and Member States expressed deep dissatisfaction with this.

“We insisted on a precise delivery schedule on the basis of which Member States should be planning their vaccination programs, subject to the granting of a conditional marketing authorisation.

“The EU Commission will continue to insist with Astra-Zeneca on measures to increase predictability and stability of deliveries, and acceleration of the distribution of doses.”

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