Taoiseach says vaccine approval next month could be a 'wonderful Christmas voucher'


Taoiseach Micheál Martin has revealed that President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen believes Europe will have authorisation for both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines in the second half of December.

he Taoiseach confirmed a high level task force is already working on the “very big logistical operation” of rolling out the vaccines pending approval from the European Medicines Agency (MEA).

Speaking to Virgin Media News last night, the Taoiseach said the vaccines were a beacon of hope for people.

“The President of the European Commission is now saying that it could be the second half of December when they get authorisation for the Pfizer and BioNTech vaccine and for the Moderna vaccine, which could mean for the early part of 2021 that we are in a position to start procuring the vaccine.

“I have set up a high level task force to go through the logistics of this as this will be a very big operation logistically in the country. It could change the situation significantly for the better,” the Taoiseach said.

Mr Martin said it is unlikely the country will be in a position to roll this vaccine out over Christmas but said the vaccine approval would be a “wonderful Christmas voucher” for 2021.

“We may not be in a position to deliver it during Christmas but it would be a wonderful Christmas present in the sense of a voucher for the next 12 months.

“It is hope. What I would say to people in the context of the vaccine is, everything you have been doing has been worth it. In terms of personal sacrifices, I know it is very hard on people. The inability to get to funerals has hit people hard; people have been out of work; if you own a pub, restaurant or hotel this has been quite miserable. Your whole modus operandi has been turned upside down and you don’t know if you have a future or not.

“The vaccine gives us hope and enables us to say, ‘let’s double down, let’s not lose pace for the final 10 minutes of this and give it everything we have to keep the virus under pressure,” insisted the Taoiseach.

One area the Taoiseach is mindful of is vaccine uptake upon receiving authorisation and he says a huge communications campaign will be rolled out across Europe to ease people’s fears while reminding people of the importance of vaccines in humanity’s history.

“It is estimated we will need 70pc of a take-up to grant herd immunity so there will be a very strong communications campaign across Europe to encourage people to take this vaccine, once it is approved by the MEA.

“I understand this issue, having been the Minister for Health, but vaccines saved the world during many periods of our history in terms of eliminating viruses and we take that for granted a bit in recent history, but they have been a very important public health tool historically.”

The Taoiseach encourages people to double down in their efforts to stem the spread of the virus rather than “take it easy” now that a vaccine is on the horizon. He said our hospitals are coping but does not want to see them become challenged like hospitals in mainland Europe.

“Our hospitals are doing well at the moment; we’re managing it. We don’t want to be in a situation like other European countries where their ICU beds are under pressure and where their workers are generally under pressure in their hospitals.

“I think we have done well as a country overall, we just need to maintain our focus and the vaccine, rather than saying now is the time to let off and take it easy, we should say another while now if we keep at this, the vaccine will come on stream soon and we will be in a much better position as a society as a result.”

Online Editors

Source: Irish News