COVID JAB Ireland in the race for early access to vaccines
IRELAND is expected to increase its odds of getting access to early doses of Covid-19 vaccines as optimism grows that at least one of the leading candidates will be passed as safe and effective in the coming months.
It has emerged that the Cabinet has given the go-ahead to the Government to opt into an agreement with the EU in sealing a deal with Johnson & Johnson to supply up to 400 million doses of its potential Covid-19 vaccine.
This is the third potential vaccine which Ireland could have access to as the EU bloc builds up stocks amid a global scramble to secure shots.
The EU has also entered into an advance purchase contract with AstraZeneca and Sanofi, bringing the number of doses secured by the EU for its population of 450 million to 1.1 billion.
The next three to four months will be crucial in indicating if there is hope for a vaccine which would gradually ease the burden of the pandemic in 2021 and reduce the need for lockdowns.
If there is a vaccine, healthcare workers will get the jab first, followed by vulnerable groups such as nursing home residents.
The exact terms of the multi-million euro agreement have not been disclosed by any of the member countries of the EU.
Under the agreement, the 27 EU states will be able to order up to 400 million doses of the potential vaccine after it is authorised by the EU medicine regulator.
In order to secure the vaccines, the EU made an undisclosed down payment to Johnson & Johnson.
It also plans to allocate up to 500 million additional doses to poorer countries in mid-2021.
EU states would pay the full price only when they order it.
The prospect of a vaccine remains the hope of countries across Europe which otherwise face a cycle of lockdowns for months ahead.