Sunday, February 28, 2021

Donnelly defends pace of Irish vaccine rollout despite Britain being ‘further ahead’

Donnelly defends pace of Irish vaccine rollout despite Britain being ‘further ahead’

Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly has said Ireland has to accept it is lagging behind the UK when it comes to vaccinating people against Covid-19.

But defending the slower pace of rollout here when compared to the North and Britain, he said the Republic was performing well compared with other countries globally and within the EU.

“People are very reasonably looking at the UK and saying, well, the UK are further ahead,” he told reporters at The Helix at Dublin City University (DCU), the State’s first mass vaccination centre which began inoculations on Saturday.

“And they are. We have to accept that, they are.”

But Ireland has “one of the faster vaccine roll-outs in the EU” and risked being even worse off if it decided to go it alone in purchasing its own supply of jabs, he added.

“We’re a member of the EU, going with the EU,” Mr Donnelly said.

“Had we gone on our own and as a tiny country tried to purchase millions and millions of doses of vaccines, it is not at all certain we would have been able to do that.

“We would have been competing with the might of the EU. As a member of the EU, and through the EU, we have already advance purchased about 16 million doses and I’m looking for Cabinet approval shortly to increase that again.”

Latest figures show 310,900 vaccines — 113,291 of them second jabs — have been administered in the Republic. The figures suggest just less than 4 per cent of the overall population has received a first jab.

In the North, 436,143 people have been administered a first dose, which translates as 23.3 per cent of the population. England has vaccinated 25.4 per cent, Scotland 25.7 per cent and Wales 26.8 per cent.

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