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Jab hope Ireland could start making Pfizer vaccine as early as end of 2021 as 378 new Covid cases confirmed

There are 98 people in Irish hospitals with Covid-19, of which 35 are in ICU.

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Pfizer vaccine

Pfizer vaccine

Pfizer vaccine

Production of Covid vaccine in Ireland could begin as early as the end of this year — while the vaccine programme will continue for another two years.

Output of doses at the Pfizer plant in Clondalkin, West Dublin, could arrive before 2022, “which would be fantastic,” Health Minister Stephen Donnelly said.

But he stressed this prospect was subject to the usual planning and regulatory approval, while Ireland would have a vaccine programme for the next two years.

It comes as there have been 378 new cases of Covid-19 confirmed by the Department of Health this evening.

There are 98 people in Irish hospitals with Covid-19, of which 35 are in ICU.

Figures on the number of people that have died with Covid-19 are currently unavailable due to the IT outage caused by the ransomware attack on the HSE.

Daily case numbers may also be subject to change in future, when the figures are validated once the HSE’s computer systems are operational.

Meanwhile, Minister Donnelly said there had also been “very encouraging advances technologically” with the Pfizer vaccine, while the opening up of the Clondalkin plant to production of the vaccine will create 75 jobs.

It means much easier storage than the super-low temperatures used to store the vaccine to this point, he said.

“All of this is going to serve as a backbone for our vaccination strategy for the next two years,” the Health Minister told the Seanad.

Ireland’s direct contribution to the manufacture of the vaccine was “really exciting,” he said, referring to Pfizer's announcement that its Grange Castle plant would manufacture here for European supply.

“Production at that plant could commence as early as the end of this year, which would be fantastic,” he said.

“We’re also taking steps to plan access to vaccines for countries less fortunate than ours,” he said.

“Recent events, including what's happened in India, is just another reminder of why we need a global and just solution to this pandemic.”

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Mr Donnelly said the State was “moving ever closer to meeting our goal” of offering vaccinations to everyone in Ireland who wants one this summer.

These were “significant achievements for our nation,” Mr Donnelly said, “showing what's best about our country.” he paid tribute to all making the vaccination programme so successful.

Up to 300,000 vaccines were administered last week, he said, while just vaccination centre of the 37 nationwide — Citywest in Dublin — had just administered its 100,000th jab.

The portal for those aged 40-44 will open from Wednesday morning, he said, while the levels of uptake so far were the really good news.

“Among those aged 60-69, about 90pc have started vaccination. For those aged 50-59, there has been a registration rate in excess of 86pc. And for those aged over 70, nearly 100pc have been vaccinated.

“In fact when you look at the European tables in terms of both age, and then health care workers, Ireland leads the EU.

“We are the number one country in the entire EU in vaccinating the most vulnerable people and our health care workers first, and I think that's something as a nation that we should be immensely proud of.”

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