The United Kingdom reportedly plans to supply Ireland with 3.7 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines.
GOVERNMENT SOURCES SAID the UK government has not been in contact with its Irish counterparts over reported plans to supply the Republic of Ireland with surplus Covid-19 vaccines.
While the suggestion was described as ‘speculation’, one source added that any such offer would likely be accepted.
As Ireland’s rollout struggles to build steam due to poor and intermittent supply, the United Kingdom’s efforts are continuing at a much greater pace, leading to speculation that excess supply could be passed on.
Ireland is already due to receive increasing numbers of vaccines over the coming weeks through existing EU purchase agreements.
The Sunday Times reports this morning that the United Kingdom plans to supply Ireland with 3.7 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines.
This is contingent on a supply adequate to administer a second dose to the adult population in the United Kingdom, and will only be possible ‘after Easter’.
A downturn in the United Kingdom’s own supply is expected in April.
The paper reports that the intention of sharing supply is primarily to shore up plans to ease restrictions in Northern Ireland, where the rollout has progressed further than in the Republic, and to avoid a third wave of infections there.
It would also represent the first export of vaccines out of the United Kingdom to the European Union.
Senior government sources told The Journal last night that they were ‘unaware’ of any offer being made or even contact being made about a potential offer, describing the plans as ‘speculation’.
Two senior sources noted the UK is still vaccinating its own population, and even if spares were available it would be some time before they were shared with Ireland.
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One source said Ireland would be happy to accept such an offer if it were made, but added that the supply of vaccines from the European Union would improve significantly over the next four to six weeks, leaving Ireland with its own adequate number of vaccines.
RTÉ News reports this morning that Northern Ireland’s First Minister Arlene Foster spoke to UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson about plans to share vaccine supply with Ireland.
Foster told the broadcaster that she believes excess doses ‘should, and hopefully will’ be shared, but only once the United Kingdom’s own rollout is complete.
Ireland has so far administered the first dose of a Covid-19 vaccine to 11.1% of its population, compared to 38% in Northern Ireland and roughly 45% in the United Kingdom overall.
The United Kingdom has sped ahead in this regard by delaying the administration of second dose of some vaccines.
With reporting by Christina Finn