Taoiseach calls for calm in the race to vaccinate populations

Taoiseach calls for calm in the race to vaccinate populations

Taoiseach Michéal Martin has called for calm in the race to vaccinate populations.

Taoiseach Michéal Martin has called for calm in the race to vaccinate populations.

Mr Martin was speaking in the wake of a move by the European Union (EU) to stop the unimpeded flow of vaccines from the European bloc into Northern Ireland. 

The bloc later backtracked following outrage in London, Belfast and Dublin.

The Taoiseach said more people getting vaccinated across Europe is a good thing.

Mr Martin also indicated that he does not see a "major reopening of the economy" on March 5 and that the Government is likely to take a "conservative and cautious" approach to reducing restrictions.

He told RTÉ's This Week programme that the hospitality sector could not reopen before an increased rollout of the vaccine project.

In terms of the vaccination programme, Mr Martin said Ireland is down 300,000 doses it was expecting from AstraZeneca, but he said it will pick up in May, June and July as increased supplies come in from Pfizer and Moderna and hopefully Johnson & Johnson.

Earlier, he told the BBC's Andrew Marr Show: "We were watching what's happening in the UK and saying, 'well done, you are vaccinating quickly and that's important'.

"Overall, across Europe we all need to roll out the vaccination programme as effectively and efficiently as we can, so I would like if we can dial down the tone and work collegially is the best way to deal with this."

Asked whether he would like to see any UK surplus of the vaccination distributed to Ireland, Mr Martin said there is a long way to go yet.

"The UK has a long way to go, we have a long way to go, Europe has long way to go," he said.

"I think all of us have a collective responsibility to ensure that the developing world, and particularly frontline workers in the developing world, are vaccinated as well because this is a global situation.

"There's very little point in the virus raging across developing countries while we vaccinate 100% here because that would mean more mutations.

"We have a journey to go but I think we will get there if we can just calm down.

"There's an understandable race against time in relation to getting the vaccines out but, if you think about it, what has happened in the last 10 months has been truly remarkable that we've managed to facilitate the development of vaccines in such a short space of time.

"I understand that anxiety, but we will get there."

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