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Quick jab AstraZeneca vaccine could speed up inoculation process, expert says

There’s no allergic reactions yet reported with the AstraZeneca vaccine, which is good. It’s rare with the Pfizer, but it was seen in a small number of people"

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Professor Luke O’Neill

Professor Luke O’Neill

Professor Luke O’Neill

The fact that there has been no reports of severe allergic reactions with the AstraZeneca / Oxford University coronavirus vaccine could help speed up vaccination times, Professor Luke O'Neill has said. 

Professor O'Neill - an immunologist at Trinity College – said no severe allergic reactions have yet reported with the AstraZeneca vaccine, while reactions to the Pfizer jab are rare.

He explained: “There’s no allergic reactions yet reported with the AstraZeneca vaccine, which is good. It’s rare with the Pfizer, but it was seen in a small number of people.

“AstraZeneca have said there’s no need to wait… as soon as you have the vaccine you can leave. That’s a big effect, because the (time per patient) can be much faster.

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Luke O'Neill photographed by Ruth Medjber

Luke O'Neill photographed by Ruth Medjber

Luke O'Neill photographed by Ruth Medjber

“Waiting for 15 minutes is a bit of a chore, especially in a GP’s surgery… if we don’t need to do that, then it makes it more convenient.

“In the UK, GPs are now doing the vaccinations more and more, and pharmacies are about to start.”

The jab - which is currently being considered for approval in the EU - is already easier to store than other available vaccines, as it does not need to be kept in ultra-low temperatures.

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar today said if the vaccine is approved as expected on January 29th the State will be able to double the rate of vaccination to around 100,000 doses per week.

Initial trials have shown the AstraZeneca vaccine to have a slightly lower efficacy than the Pfizer and Moderna jabs, at around 60-70%.

However, Professor O'Neill reassured people that's still a very effective rate.

He said: "They're all good... AstraZeneca may well get to 80%-90%... one of the trials did get to 90%."

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Sinn Féin has, meanwhile called on the government to take early deliveries of the AstraZeneca vaccine to ensure it can be rolled out as soon as it is approved by European authorities.

It comes as Health Minister Stephen Donnelly has said he now expects that at least four million people will be vaccinated against Covid-19 by the end of September.

Updated projections sent by Mr Donnelly to TDs confirm that the Government now expects to receive 3.7m doses between April and the end of June and a further 3.8m between July and the end of September.

This would see at least 4m people vaccinated by the end of the summer once additional vaccines are approved by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) in the coming weeks.

At-risk groups and healthcare workers will get the vaccine first, and it is expected that 700,000 people will be vaccinated by the end of March.

But Mary Lou McDonald said we are now "in crisis situation" and there "a real public anxiety" that the vaccines are rolled out quickly.

"I can understand people's anxieties, and we have to get this right.

"We need to ensure that we have the supply side right and then crucially that we have the right mechanisms of distribution to distribute safely and efficiently the vaccine," Ms McDonald said, speaking on Newstalk.

Pointing to the fact that the AstraZeneca vaccine is already being administered in Northern Ireland, Ms McDonald said: "We have suggested, for example, that although AstraZeneca, which we all know will be the game changer because it can be distributed by GPs and pharmacists, that we actually get the supplies of that vaccine into the State now, and await its clearance by the European authorities, which I hope happens."

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