Micheál Martin says Covid-19 vaccine could be approved in Ireland before Christmas
“It could change the situation significantly for the better.”
Taoiseach Micheál Martin has said that a vaccine for Covid-19 could be approved in Ireland before Christmas with a view to rolling it out in early part of 2021.
Vaccines from Pfizer and BioNTech and Moderna have both been shown to have efficacy levels in excess of 94% in recent clinical trials and are expected to be widely distributed for use throughout the globe next year.
Speaking to Virgin Media News on Friday, the Taoiseach said that a Covid-19 vaccine is likely to be authorised by the European Commission before Christmas.
If that proves to be the case, Martin said a high-level taskforce would be assembled to examine the logistics of procuring the vaccine and rolling it out in Ireland early next year.
“The vaccine is important and I pay tribute to the European Commission and the president for coordinating that very well,” Martin said.
“The president of the European Commission is now saying that it could be the second half of December that they will get authorisation – from Pfizer and BioNTech and Moderna – which could mean that for the early part of 2021 we’re in a position to start procuring the vaccine.
“And I have set up a high-level task force to go through the logistics of this because this will be a very big operation logistically in the country, it could change the situation significantly for the better.”
Asked by Gavan Reilly of Virgin Media News if the news of the delivery of a working vaccine for Irish people would be the “greatest Christmas gift of all”, Martin replied: “We may not be in a position to deliver it before Christmas, but it would be a wonderful Christmas present in the sense of the voucher for the next 12 months.”
A COVID-19 vaccine might be approved for use in Ireland within the next month. Happy Saturday, everyone 🥳 pic.twitter.com/DOIMe81tTq
— Gavan Reilly (@gavreilly) November 21, 2020
Pressed on concerns about the take-up of the vaccine, Martin said that it is estimated that it would need a 70% take-up to achieve herd immunity in the population and that there would be a very strong communications campaign across Europe to encourage people to avail of it.
Martin said that vaccines have been very important in eliminating viruses historically but suggested that they may have been taken for granted a little in more recent years.
In the same interview, Martin said that guidance will be given on Irish people flying home for Christmas by the end of this month, but added that some trips home should be considered more essential than others.