James Ward, PA
The AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson vaccines should be reconsidered for younger age groups to fight the spread of the Delta variant, the Taoiseach has said.
Chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan is to consult with the National Immunisation Advisory Committee (Niac) on the issue, which previously had advised they not be given to people under 50 over concerns around rare incidents of blood clotting.
Speaking at a meeting of the European Council in Brussels on Friday, Mr Martin said the “balance of risk” had changed due to the Delta variant.
I think the balance of risk has changed.
He told reporters: “That would really broaden the portfolio of vaccines available for July and August.
“I think the balance of risk has changed. Therefore, that’s something that would be considered by the immunisation advisors to Government, in terms of making sure that we can protect people against the Delta variant.”
He added: “I think that’s the most practical exercise that’s under way at the moment, the consideration by the CMO and NIAC of whether we can change the age restriction constraints on the utilisation of Astra Zeneca and Janssen (J&J).”
Uncertainty remains over the reopening of indoor hospitality on July 5th with Cabinet set to come to a decision next Thursday.
HSE boss Paul Reid said on Friday that the Taoiseach is facing a difficult decision, and that “nobody would envy Government having to make those choices”.
“Government have to weigh up all those really difficult choices, because people do want the economy continuing to open, people do want society continuing to open, and that’s important for our health service” Mr Reid told RTÉ’s Morning Ireland.
“But it’s that difficult dilemma of what we see as a very real significant threat and trying to protect the gains.
“It’s really that difficult point we’re at, to bank everything that we have and not lose it again.”