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Jab to be done Professor Luke O'Neill says leaving unused vaccines sitting on shelf would be a 'scandal'

They’re definitely going to approve it for younger people - they have to. There’s no question,” he said.

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Professor Luke O'Neill

Professor Luke O'Neill

Professor Luke O'Neill

Trinity top doc Professor Luke O'Neill has said it would be a "scandal" to leave unused vaccines sitting on the shelf. 

Professor O'Neill was speaking as the Government and health officials await updated advice from the National Immunisation Advisory Committee (NIAC) in relation to the use of the AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson vaccines for younger people.

At the moment it is recommended that the two vaccines are only be used for those aged 50 or over.

However, Professor O’Neill said there's "no question" NIAC will approve the use of both vaccines for younger people.

Professor O'Neill told The Pat Kenny Show on Newstalk that he's confident they'll give the go-ahead for the wider use of the two jabs.

“They’re definitely going to approve it for younger people - they have to. There’s no question,” he said.

“They’ll have to decrease the age to use up the supply. Otherwise there’s a risk of leaving vaccines on the shelf, which would be a scandal.

"Give it to the developing world if you’re not going to use it yourself."

Professor O'Neill also addressed the different dose timelines for the various vaccines.

As the Johnson & Johnson is a single jab, people are considered fully vaccinated shortly after receiving it.

For Pfizer and Moderna, people have to wait around a month for their second dose.

And that wait can be three or four months for those who receive the AstraZeneca vaccine.

Professor O'Neill said he believes the European Medicine Agency (EMA) should push for “vaccine bonuses” - such as being able to visit the homes of other vaccinated people – to be applied for all vaccines a few weeks after a single shot.

“That’d be good,” he said, “especially for travel.

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"With the summer coming, if you have to wait 16 weeks… then the summer’s gone.”

Yesterday Tánaiste Leo Vardakar said everyone who wants a vaccine may be offered one before the end of June.

Health Minister Stephen Donnelly today said that goal is "very ambitious" - but it's one he hopes they can deliver on.

A new vaccine produced by Novavax is expected to be one of the next to be approved in the coming months.

The firm has also started work on a jab that would combine the flu and Covid-19 vaccines in a single shot.

Professor O'Neill described the Novavax flu jab as “already one of the best flu vaccines out there”.

“They’ve got great pre-clinical data - they’re testing it in animals initially,” he said.

“They got a tremendous result to the flu and Covid-19 in the one shot. The future could well be flu and Covid combinations.”

While it is unlikely the jab will be used this winter, it could be used in the coming years - particularly if people need booster shots against Covid-19.


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