Ireland in line to vaccinate half its population by end-June, EU data shows

European Union expects to receive over 400m vaccine doses by that date

Some 18.5 million doses of vaccines were delivered in January and shared among the 27 member states, 17.6 million of them Pfizer-BioNTech doses, according to Commission figures. Photograph: by Christof Stache/AFP via Getty Images

Some 18.5 million doses of vaccines were delivered in January and shared among the 27 member states, 17.6 million of them Pfizer-BioNTech doses, according to Commission figures. Photograph: by Christof Stache/AFP via Getty Images

 

The European Union expects to have received 406.5 million vaccine doses by the end of June, putting Ireland in line to vaccinate roughly half of its population by then according to a new EU delivery schedule, The Irish Times has learnt.

According to the latest figures, the European Commission expects 33 million doses of overall Covid-19 vaccines to be delivered this month, 55 million doses in March, and 300 million between April and June.

In all, 18.5 million doses of vaccines were delivered in January and shared among the 27 member states, 17.6 million of them Pfizer-BioNTech doses and the remainder made by Moderna, according to Commission figures.

All are made available to member states depending on population size, meaning that if Ireland opts to take all of its available doses it would be in line to have received in the region of 4.47 million doses by the end of June, reflecting its population of about 1.1 percent of the overall EU.

The number of people who can be vaccinated by the deliveries depends on how many of the doses are of two-shot vaccines, and how many are of the single-shot vaccine currently under development by Johnson & Johnson.

So far, only Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca have applied for and received authorisation from the European Medicines Agency. Johnson & Johnson has indicated it hopes to be in a position to apply for approval this month.

Previously, the European Commission told member states there would be enough vaccines to inoculate 70 per cent of the adult populations “by summer”, though the precise date was left unclear and the goal was indicated by some officials to mean by the end of summer.

Overall, the bloc has booked up 2.3 billion doses of vaccines, including 400 million from Johnson & Johnson, 600 million from Pfizer, 400 million from AstraZeneca and 160 million from Moderna.

The new figures, which have been briefed by the Commission in closed-door meetings, follow talks in recent days between the EU executive and pharmaceutical companies that are contracted to deliver vaccines to the bloc.

They include an upward revision of expected deliveries from Pfizer and from British-Swedish multinational AstraZeneca, which raised the number of doses promised by March to 40 million from 31 million after a bitter spat with the bloc last week over a slowed fulfilment schedule.

EU authorities have been alarmed by the emergence of new variants of Covid-19, which has raised the prospect of strains of the virus spreading among the population that vaccines are less effective against.

Work is already ongoing with pharmaceutical companies to boost vaccine production capacity within the bloc and streamline regulatory approval procedures in anticipation that an update or “new generation” of the vaccines will be needed to combat vaccine-resistant mutations of the virus.

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