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Brian MacCraith

Brian MacCraith

Brian MacCraith

A supply of Covid-19 vaccines will be rolled out here by January at the latest, the chairperson of Ireland’s new taskforce has promised.

Brian MacCraith and his team are due to submit a national vaccination strategy and full implementation plan to the Government on Friday, December 11.

The former President of Dublin City University and physicist said Ireland will receive 1.11pc of the supply that has been agreed with the European Commission.

If all goes well then that means the EU will get 1.4 billion doses – and Ireland will have access to over 15 million vaccines.

The European Commission has signed the advance purchase agreement for six vaccines, which he described as “a pathway out of this pandemic – our pathway to freedom”.

“The taskforce has decided and committed to submitting to the Taoiseach a national vaccination strategy and full implementation plan on Friday, December 11 so we are at full tilt, making sure this will happen,” he told LMFM’s Late Lunch presenter Gerry Kelly.

“This is important given the expectation that some of the vaccines may well get conditional marketing authorisation and some of that could happen as early as mid-December and we need to be ready as a nation to be able to accept the vaccines as soon as possible.

“It could be late December but it certainly will happen in January at the very latest, we will have vaccines on the ground here and we need to know exactly what to do as efficiently and as effectively as possible.

"There are actually six vaccines now the European Commission have signed the advance purchase agreement for – Moderna, Pfizer, Janssen, Sanofi, Curevac and AstraZeneca.

“The European Commission has signed the advance purchase agreement for 1.4 billion vaccine doses, with an option of another half billion and Ireland gets its share of those in proportion to the population, so we get just over 1.1pc. If you do the maths, that’s a significant number of vaccines.

“We will not be short of vaccines. So when we look at the issue of sequencing and who gets it and in what order, there will be vaccines for everybody and that’s an important message to get out.”

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Mr MacCraith said he was delighted with respected experts in Ireland who were advocating the vaccines.

“I’m very pleased to hear people like (Professors) Luke O’Neill and Paul Moynagh saying they will be in the front of the queue (to get the vaccine).

“They are world leading experts on vaccines. They understand the science of this and they’ll validate all the information coming out across all vaccines and I will be utilising that expertise to make sure that what reaches the Irish public is with the highest levels of safety involved so people can make their own decision.

“But really it is our pathway out of this pandemic. Our pathway to freedom really that a large fraction of the Irish population adopt the vaccine.”

Mr MacCraith said the new taskforce had a ‘massive task ahead’ in terms of logistics and ensuring the safe administraton of vaccines.

“It’s a massive task, it’s a complex task but it is important for the wellbeing of Irish society and I was pleased and honoured to take on the role

“The role of the taskforce is to make sure we’ve a very integrated approach to making sure we’ve a really efficient and effective vaccine strategy and plan ready for the Irish public as soon as possible.

“We’ll be covering all the issues from the vaccines leaving the pharmaceutical plants, to where they are stored, how they are distributed, all the way through to what sequence of individuals will be vaccinated and what the follow-up will be.

"Virtually all the vaccines at the head of the queue at the moment are dual dose – so how we manage that for everyone, because the second dose has to happen within four weeks.

“It’s important to recognise the Quality of European Medicines Agency which is the organisation that makes a decision to authorise the use of medicines for the European member states and the Irish Health Product Representative Agency is represented both on it and our taskforce, and this will enable us to make the absolutely safest decisions and recommendations for usage for the Irish public.”

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