The Government taskforce charged with rolling out a Covid-19 vaccination programme in Ireland will meet for the first time today. Professor Brian Craith, the chairman of the task force, has said that the group will be putting together and effecting a plan to vaccinate the Irish population “urgently and comprehensively”.
The group’s meeting comes as a 3rd vaccine looks like it may be ready to go in a matter of weeks. The Oxford Astrazeneca vaccine has reported a 70% efficacy rate for a single dose and 90% for a two-dose strategy. The announcement came hot on the heels of reports from Pfizer and Moderna that their vaccines were 95% effective. Pfizer has already applied for an emergency use licence for its vaccine and the first doses are expected to be ready within weeks.
With the Oxford research group reporting that its vaccine is both safe and efficient – working well in vulnerable groups – there is hope now that Ireland will have access to sufficient stocks of Covid-19 vaccine to begin vaccinating vulnerable groups in December.
Irish scientist Professor Tess Lambe, who worked on the vaccine at Oxford University’s Jenner Institute, told RTÉ that it was important to get as many working vaccines as possible “out there” as one producer cannot provide enough vaccines to inoculate the world’s population.
“I think I can speak for the whole team that we’re elated that we’ve got this far this fast and with such an amount of safety and a really good efficacy readout. I think there is some confusion around the quoting of 70% and 90%, but it simply comes down to two different types of regimes while we’re seeing the different results – the 70% is when you combine the regime of the 90% with a different regime a standard does and a standard dose so that’s why there’s a little confusion,” Prof Lambe said.
The Professor said that the Oxford AstraZeneca team expects to have 3 billion doses ready by next year.
Ireland’s vaccination task force will use project managers and business experts to help the scientists and public health experts to efficiently roll out the programme as soon as the first batches of vaccine arrive.