It has been suggested that the Irish government should consider asking the UK for any spare vaccines it may have. That is according to Minister for Higher Education Simon Harris, who said it was the government’s job to maximise the supply of vaccines.
Speaking on RTÉ Radio’s Today with Claire Byrne show, Minister Harris said the government needs to do everything to “get them into the arms” of people as soon as possible.
In response to the criticism directed at delays in its delivery, Harris said the government tried to “level” with the public and provide the “best information” in relation to the rollout. He added that it was very important for the government to be transparent and share information “as we have it.”
Harris revealed that Ireland has been appointed an AstraZeneca country manager. He believes this will allow “a significant ramping up” of vaccinations, along with the anticipated approval of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
Minister Harris also said it was important that the lines of communication between the HSE and general practitioners be improved.
18 million vaccines had been pre-ordered by the State and Harris expects May and June to see vaccination levels of up to 200,000 and 300,000 per week.
Regarding the start date for the new Mandatory Hotel Quarantine system, Minister Harris said the next step would be this week’s signing of the contract with the security company involved. It will be signed this week and the system will be up and running this month. The system requires passengers arriving from the 20 countries on the red list to quarantine for 14 days in a designated hotel.
“There were many different elements,” said Harris – “the hotel, food, testing and security on-site, involving numerous government departments”. He added that Ireland will be the first country in the EU to have such a quarantine system “up and running”.