Taoiseach says he would take AstraZeneca vaccine, as decision awaited on resumption
Micheál Martin says he undertands people are ‘fed up’ with restrictions
Taoiseach Micheal Martin said the big concern was the variants because they are more transmissible and more deadly.Photograph: Julien Behal Photography/PA Wire
Taoiseach Micheal Martin said he would happily receive the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine amid reassurance from the European Medicines Agency (EMA) that it is safe and effective and not associated with a higher blood clot risk.
Speaking in Cork the Taoiseach indicated that preparations are being made in terms of resuming the AstraZeneca vaccine rollout in Ireland.
The acting chief medical officer is due to issue an update the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine to the Minister for Health after it was paused almost a week ago.
Mr Martin moved to reassure the general public about the safety of the vaccine.
“I would say if you look across Europe and the United Kingdom it has been used very extensively and very senior scientists and medical experts have confirmed its safety and its efficacy.
“The virus is killing a lot of people. It is creating a lot of illness. Without question this vaccine is very effective and the European Medicines Agency has said it is a very safe vaccine.
“They would have applied very significant due diligence in relation to that issue.”
Asked about a report that the US is to send four million AstraZeneca vaccines to Canada and Mexico and whether any could be expected in Ireland Mr Martin would only say that he had a “wide ranging discussion “ with US president Joe Biden on the issue of vaccines.
“He asked questions about AstraZeneca in Europe and decisions taken and we did discuss it widely.
“What he said and what he made clear to us was that he was waiting until the end of May to establish that they would have a sufficiency of supply for the entire American population before they would discuss the sharing of vaccines. He did reference Canada and Mexico. Obviously they are very close neighbours.”
The Taoiseach stressed that Ireland would not hear about any possibility of receiving excess vaccines from the US until the end of May.
M Martin said the key point he made to the US resident on St Patrick’s Day was the “absolute imperative” of keeping supply chains open.
“I have spoken to all the pharmaceutical companies and that is the key point. If you take for example the Pfizer vaccine alone you are looking at maybe 280 materials to make the vaccine. 86 suppliers all operating in 19 different countries.
“When I talk about integrated global supply chains that is what I am talking about and all countries need to be mindful about keeping those supply chains open.”
When asked if he would take AstraZeneca the Taoiseach said he “would indeed” and that preparations were ongoing re rolling out the vaccine following its brief suspension.
“There are further meetings in respect of certain aspects of that terms of information pertaining to the vaccine what would go on information leaflets. Those discussions are ongoing as we speak.”
When asked about any possibility of relaxations on the 5km restrictions Mr Martin said he understood that the public were “fed up.”
“I do understand and get it that the public are fed up. But I want to thank people. I think people have been remarkable. We brought numbers down from a very high level over Christmas to relatively low levels.
“Our big concern are the variants because they are more transmissible and more deadly.That said we understand where people are.
“It ( the restrictions) has taken pressure off the hospitals and the ICU and meanwhile we are vaccinating the more vulnerable.
“I am not going to speculate today (on the 5K) but we will give clear indications in advance of the 5th of April as to how we see April panning out.
“We are thinking and reflecting on the outdoor situation and outdoor activities and what be possible there because mental health is very important and the mental health of young people is very important. The good news is that the volume of vaccines will increase signficantly.”
When questioned about a warning from deputy chief medical officer , Dr Ronan Glynn, that tough Covid restrictions could last until June the Taoiseach said he would be meeting with the National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet) prior to April 5th and decisions would be made at that point.
He emphasised the need for the public to observe the basics.
“It is important that people observe the basics in terms of social distancing. In terms of washing ones hands. Also in terms of the avoidance of congregation particularly indoor. This variant is very transmissible and much more dangerous.
We are not dealing with the same virus we had in phase one and two. One of our consistent points is that we have got numbers relatively down. We still have to keep the pressure on the virus. We don’t want to open things up and then have to close them.”