Taoiseach: Vaccine strategy for Ireland will be ready by December 

Taoiseach: Vaccine strategy for Ireland will be ready by December 

Taoiseach Micheál Martin met with the head of the National Vaccines Taskforce, Professor Brian MacCraith, on Monday, who hopes to deliver the strategy by December 11.

A STRATEGY for the rollout of a coronavirus vaccine is expected to be delivered to Government in early December.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin met with the head of the National Vaccines Taskforce, Professor Brian MacCraith, on Monday, who hopes to deliver the strategy by December 11.

The Government will also be involved intense discussions with public health chiefs this week to deliver a plan on exiting the level five lockdown by Thursday or Friday, the Taoiseach said.

Mr Martin said: "I spoke this morning with the chairperson of the National Vaccines Taskforce, Brian McCraith.

"They're working very energetically on this. He hopes to have a strategy for Government by the 11th of December, in terms of how we will distribute vaccines.

"It will require a national effort to get the vaccines out properly and safely, and working with all stakeholders and saying to people generally to cooperate with us.

"We will need all hands on deck for a national effort around the vaccine as well, when they come through the safety protocols."

But he warned that the arrival of a potential vaccine "is not a moment to relax or to say we can now stand back".

"It actually is a moment to double down and say we can see the horizon ahead of us in terms of the vaccine."

Mr Martin was meeting with the Coalition party leaders, Leo Varadkar and Eamon Ryan on Monday evening to discuss the strategy for exiting lockdown.

A Cabinet meeting will follow on Tuesday morning, ahead of further engagements between Government and Nphet.

An additional 252 confirmed cases of coronavirus were reported on Monday, with no new deaths linked to the virus.

The rolling five-day average of the daily infection total stands at 333.

Mr Martin said on Monday: "Nphet will obviously give its advice, but Government will decide how we exit level five.

Taoiseach Micheal Martin speaking to media during a visit to Dublin Port.
Taoiseach Micheal Martin speaking to media during a visit to Dublin Port.

"That will be a decision of Government that will be taken this week, either Thursday or Friday."

Mr Martin declined to give details of which businesses will be allowed to reopen, although a move to level three restrictions has been mooted.

But he praised the progress made by Ireland in the battle against the virus, and said the restrictions introduced to date have worked.

He said: "Ireland is second best in the EU in terms of the low number of cases. Level 3, the restrictions in household visits and then Level 5 did work, and has worked.

"There's been a narrative around this that I don't think has been helpful or accurate. It has worked, we've brought the numbers well down."

The Taoiseach was speaking from a press conference at Dublin Port on Monday, where he was visiting to asses the levels of Brexit preparation.

He said Government had studied the behaviour of the virus in recent months, as well as international data, which inform the decision later this week.

Mr Martin said: "Gatherings and congregation with events with alcohol facilitate the spread of the virus. Ultimately vigilance is key. Human behaviour is key.

"What has emerged is that the move on the restriction of visitors to households, after we had introduced level three, seems to have had an impact.

"We have to bear that in mind as we move through December. Government is going to give this consideration."

He added: " I'm not going to get into specifics of what will open and what will not. But suffice to say that the Irish people have made a lot of sacrifices.

"This level five has been difficult, and the restrictions on households has been difficult on people. That has been very hard for people. We get that, we understand that.

"The good news is that what you are doing is working. We're managing our hospitals in terms of ICU numbers and in terms of hospitalisation. We've kept our schools open. We've kept our schools open thanks to all involved."

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