Leo Varadkar says 80% June vaccination target "impossible" if Jansen jab isn't approved 1 month ago

Leo Varadkar says 80% June vaccination target "impossible" if Jansen jab isn't approved

He said the target will be "incredibly difficult" if the vaccine is restricted to over-60's.

Leo Varadkar has said that the Government's target to vaccinate 80% of the adult population by June may be "impossible" if the Johnson & Johnson jab isn't approved for under-60's.

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Leo Varadkar said if the National Immunisation Advisory Committee (NIAC) advises against the use of the vaccine in that age cohort in Ireland it would mean scrapping 600,000 doses from the vaccination rollout.

“If the decision was made it would make it extremely difficult if not impossible to meet the target,” he told RTE Radio 1’s Drivetime programme.

“It would mean we would have four vaccines we can use on the over-60's and only two in the under-60's. One is Moderna which is a very small company and a very limited supply, so that would knock 600,000 doses off the plan.

“If we’re down 600,000 doses that would then knock you back by about two to three weeks.”

It comes as Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Holohan said that Ireland is in a "strong position" to ease restrictions next week in spite of the highest daily cases so far this month being announced earlier today.

At the press conference on Thursday, the CMO said that Ireland is "not where we need to be in terms of vaccinations" however, the vaccination programme "does give hope" that restrictions can be eased soon.

Holohan added that he is worried that people will "get ahead of restrictions" when they do begin to ease, jeopardising the reopening timeline.

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“We are in a strong position in that transmission levels have reduced substantially and the roll-out of vaccination is protecting more and more of those at risk from the severe effects of Covid-19," he said.

“If we can maintain our current position there is hope that we can look forward to a real easing of measures, but it is as important as ever that we don’t put that progress at risk by letting our collective guard down too much, or too early.”