Ireland’s new age-based system should help speed up the vaccination roll out, the WHO’s special envoy on Covid-19, Dr David Nabarro has said.
While he did not like commenting on national policy and had not spoken with the Irish Government, Dr Nabarro, said that the revised system made sense to him as a public health representative as he did not like to see vaccines “sitting around in stores,” he would prefer to see it in people’s arms where it could save lives
Any country that had supplies of vaccine should be in a “huge rush” to get them used, he added.
“You don’t want to be sitting on it. You don’t want to have a slow rollout so that is why I am going to say to everybody, do what you can to get the vaccines out. I am also saying, make sure you share the vaccines across all the countries where they are needed — but that is really difficult to say at the moment in Europe, people are really, really keen to get vaccines for their own populations.”
People in the developed world should take a more global view of vaccine distribution and take it upon themselves to ensure supplies were evenly shared globally, he urged. Personally, he thought that was the right way to do things.
“If our leaders were actually saying that they want to deal with this as a global problem, the majority of people would accept that. I don’t think we are programmed to view our own nations and the humans in our nation as somehow more deserving than the humans in a nation on the same longitude but several thousand kilometres to the south.
“I want those who are world citizens to stand up and be counted and tell their politicians this is a world problem that needs a world solution and let's all be part of that.”
Irish-born microbiologist Professor James McInerney has said that using an age based vaccination scheme is “slightly better” than one based on occupation, and it is also faster.
Prof McInerney, who is head of the School of Life Science at Nottingham University, told RTÉ radio’s Morning Ireland that there were arguments in favour of both systems, but that the age based scheme could be rolled out faster as had been done in the UK.
“Ultimately it is a decision for each country or territory.”
Prof McInerney added that this was a crucial time throughout Europe where Covid case numbers were rising. Countries like France, Germany, Italy and the Ukraine were experiencing “real problems,” he said.
'Completely different virus.'
Right now was the time to look at individual activity as the B117 variant could almost be described as a completely different virus given it is so virulent and transmissible, he said. The “old lockdown” measures which had worked last year to reduce numbers would not work as well this time, and it would be very hard to drive down numbers.
There was a 50 per cent higher possibility of hospitalisation because of B117 and double the possibility of ending up in ICU, he warned.
“I hear calls for an ease to restrictions everywhere,” he said. “This is a crucial time right now.”