Social Democrats co-leader Róisín Shortall TD has welcomed the result of the EMA rapid review of the AstraZeneca vaccine, which has shown it to be safe and effective.

She commented:

“It is a welcome reassurance that the EMA has come to a clear and definitive conclusion that the AstraZeneca vaccine is safe and effective.

“It should give us confidence that the EMA’s rapid review could be undertaken quickly and that NIAC is thorough and cautious about potential safety concerns. Transparency in the vaccination programme is incredibly important to ensure public confidence and an efficient rollout of all vaccines.

“The important thing now is for our Government to make it clear what the next steps are in the national rollout. The Minister for Health should set out how the revised target of 1.1m vaccines administered by the end of March, as stated by Paul Reid on March 9th, will now be met.

“If the 1.1m target is still the current goal, even allowing for the 30k missed doses due to the pause of the AstraZeneca vaccine this week, then we need to be administering between 28-30k daily. The most recent figures show that, in the week before AstraZeneca was paused, the average daily doses were hovering above 13k. That is less than half of what is needed if we are to reach the target.

“Apart from the pause in AstraZeneca, there are questions for the HSE in relation to how they will meet the targets set. Based on the real data from last week, for example, it was announced that 10k people at very high risk of severe disease would be vaccinated – yet only 4,156 actually were. The Minister must urgently set out the schedule for when the remaining 156,000 people at very high risk are going to receive their vaccines.

“The Minister needs to be clear about the new projections to the end of Q1 and Q2, as well as the impact that delivery shortfalls and this week’s pause have had on the country’s targets. The public should also be informed about the forecasts and timelines for each cohort and especially the sub-groups within the over 70s.”

March 18, 2021

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