The Irish Times view on a fourth Covid-19 vaccine: towards an exit strategy

Prompt deliveries of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine are vital if the Government’s targets are to be met

The Johnson & Johnson product will not be available immediately – Irish authorities expect the first deliveries in April – but the State is due to receive 600,000 doses over the second quarter. Photograph: Justin Tallis/AFP via Getty Images

The Johnson & Johnson product will not be available immediately – Irish authorities expect the first deliveries in April – but the State is due to receive 600,000 doses over the second quarter. Photograph: Justin Tallis/AFP via Getty Images

 

Yesterday’s decision of the European Medicines Agency to approve Johnson & Johnson’s Covid-19 vaccine adds an important weapon to the continent’s armoury in its battle with the virus. It brings to four the number of vaccines cleared by the agency for use in the European Union – a situation that, notwithstanding frustrations over the pace of the vaccination campaign, reflects the remarkable global scientific collaboration of the past year.

The Johnson & Johnson product will not be available immediately – Irish authorities expect the first deliveries in April – but the State is due to receive 600,000 doses over the second quarter. Given that this vaccine, uniquely among those now in use, requires only one shot, its availability in large quantities will be essential to the Government’s target of giving 80 per cent of adults a jab by the end of June.

The grounds for caution are self-evident. AstraZeneca’s innumerable missed delivery targets so far this year are a warning against taking such pledges as anything more than general aspirations. A proliferation of new variants could yet throw the world’s vaccination plans into disarray by resisting some of the early vaccines.

But, in broad terms, the route to an exit from the present emergency is now clear. In Ireland, it consists of retaining strict controls on social and economic life until such time as the disease is all but suppressed in the community. That combined with a steadily-accelerating vaccine campaign from April onwards, the thinking goes, will allow for a gradual, safe reopening – this time for good.

The closer each stage in that reopening comes – the next review will be in early April – the more intense the lobbying from sectoral interests will become. Already, golfers are pleading for special status and TDs are pushing for bigger funerals. For now, such appeals should not be entertained. In any decision on reopenings, the greatest weight must be given to public health advice based on the epidemiological situation at a given moment – not to those who happen to shout the loudest.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
GO BACK
Error Image
The account details entered are not currently associated with an Irish Times subscription. Please subscribe to sign in to comment.
Comment Sign In

Forgot password?
The Irish Times Logo
Thank you
You should receive instructions for resetting your password. When you have reset your password, you can Sign In.
The Irish Times Logo
Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.
Screen Name Selection

Hello

Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
Forgot Password
Please enter your email address so we can send you a link to reset your password.

Sign In

Your Comments
We reserve the right to remove any content at any time from this Community, including without limitation if it violates the Community Standards. We ask that you report content that you in good faith believe violates the above rules by clicking the Flag link next to the offending comment or by filling out this form. New comments are only accepted for 3 days from the date of publication.