IT’S the question that’s been occupying many of us for ages.
No, not why was that U.S protester on Capitol Hill wearing horns and a bearskin headdress, and how can anyone seriously call him and his rabble a ‘threat to democracy’? Not that.
I’m talking about an even more pressing question: Just when will we be vaccinated against Covid-19, so some semblance of normality can return to our lives?
As I wrote last week, I fear that Ireland aren’t on top of this issue at all, and other countries, including those in the same EU medicinal zone as us, are racing ahead.
Well, now you can be provided with an answer, all thanks to a neat ‘Vaccine Queue Calculator’.
You simply enter your profile and, voila, the estimated dates of your vaccination are provided.
I was well aware that I would be somewhere near the back of the queue on this, given I am only just over 50 and have no underlying conditions. And that’s fine. Even so, I was taken aback my the estimated dates for my Covid jab.
The calculator told me:
“Based on your profile, there are between 1,066,082 and 1,080,772 people in front of you in the queue for a Covid vaccine across Ireland.
“Given a vaccination rate of 42,000 a week and an uptake of 74% (factoring in the number likely to refuse a vaccination), you should expect to receive your first dose of vaccine between July 9 and July 11, 2021.
“You should then get your second dose by between July 30 and August 1, 2021.”
I know, a whole six months away — and there could well be an awful lot of lockdown misery to contend with between now and then, not to mention further damage to our battered economy.
You can find out your own estimated vaccination date at https://www.omnicalculator.com /health/ireland-vaccine-queue
The calculator is the brainchild of Steve Wooding, a physicist from Southampton, England, and Maciej Kowalski, a mathematician at the Institute of Mathematics of the Polish Academy of Sciences.
Steve said: “As Ireland is rollout out its vaccination program, a question lingers in thousands of minds — ‘how far in the queue am I?’ In search of an answer, I ended up building a tool to calculate it.
“Since there are 4,904,000 people in Ireland, not everybody can get vaccinated immediately. It raises the question of when are you likely to be offered it?
“We created this calculator to deliver all the answers. It will estimate how many people are ahead of you in the queue and predict how long you might have to wait. By using our tool, you’ll have a better idea of when you can expect to get vaccinated.”
Steve added: “We’ve based our vaccine queue calculator on the provisional vaccine allocation groups published by the Department of Health and the likely rate of vaccination. It takes into account age, profession, health condition, and other risk factors.”
You can also input your details in calculators for other countries, to see how Ireland compares.
Even though they have a much larger population, if I were in the UK, I would still probably be vaccinated sooner.
The calculator puts me around 24 millionth in the queue there, meaning I could expect a jab between June 2 and July 14.
Given the vastly different populations, you would expect the jabs here to be much sooner.
The Government has published a priority list of groups that will get a Covid vaccine and already begun working through them.
This starts off with people aged 65 and older who are residents of long-term care facilities, frontline healthcare workers, and those aged 70 and older. The lowest priorities are people aged 18-54, including me, people aged under 18, and pregnant women.
By default, Steve based the Irish figures on an expected vaccination rate of 42,000 a week and an uptake rate of 74%. The one big differential here could be the uptake of new vaccines in the months ahead, and his calculator will be updated once these are announced and rolled out.
Steve added: “Bear in mind, you can also change the vaccination rate yourself in the calculator if you want to input new or different circumstances.”
As I wrote last week, a tardy, disjointed vaccination roll-out here could prove fatal to Micheál Martin’s political career. This is happening on his watch and will require clear-eyed management, monitoring and direction, and possibly embracing various sectors such as the army.
Since then, there have been calls for him to appoint a Minister for Vaccinations, but this is too important for Micheál to delegate. He needs to personally ensure the programme stands up well against those of other countries. Speed is of the essence.
At least we are now finally hearing a few rumblings of discontent about the role the EU is playing in our seemingly slow-paced roll-out.
Kudos to local MEP Billy Kelleher for speaking out on this, and for baldly stating that the EU “is failing when it comes to the roll-out of the vaccine programme”.
Member States are responsible for the jabs once they receive the vaccines, but until then, it’s the responsibility of the European Commission and the manufacturers, and the MEP feels this is where current issues lie.
Mr Kelleher pointed the finger at the European Medicines Agency, stating: “Worryingly, the EMA has issued minimal communication on the reasons for the delays or when approval may be expected. While it must follow its robust regulatory processes, I get a sense that it is quite removed from the concerns and worries of ordinary people.
“What must be explained is why the EMA has determined that the Moderna and Oxford Astrazeneca vaccines must go through the longer Conditional Marketing Authorisation process rather than the more efficient Emergency Procedure. The pandemic is raging again right across Europe.”
He is right to be concerned.
Urgency is key, and while Europhiles would love to paint countries such as the UK, USA and Israel as reckless in their roll-outs, they have instead looked fleet-footed in comparison to the EU.
There are also suspicions in Ireland that EU power-brokers Germany and France are trying to feather their own nests when it comes to stockpiling vaccines.
“Being pro-European is about not being blind to the EU’s shortcomings,” added Mr Kelleher.
“It’s about recognising the benefits of solidarity and working collectively but also recognising when things can and should be better.
“No one, even the most ardent pro-European, should be afraid to call out failings.”
Well said, Billy.
Now that you’ve taken the EU to task, perhaps you can have a quiet word with your leader about injecting a little urgency in this back home.