A COVID-19 vaccine could be approved for use in Ireland before Christmas, according to Micheál Martin.
In a development the Taoiseach described as a “wonderful Christmas present” one of several vaccines could be rolled out nationwide by early 2021.
Both Pfizer and Moderna have already reported back positive results from recent trials of their Covid-19 vaccines while similarly findings are expected from a treatment being developed by a team of scientists at Oxford University being headed up by an Irish virus expert.
Speaking to Virgin Media News, Martin expressed confidence in one or more of the vaccines gaining authorisation from the European Commission before Christmas.
Once approved, then a deal would likely be established that would see the vaccine rolled out across Ireland next year.
“The vaccine is important and I pay tribute to the European Commission and the president for coordinating that very well,” he said.
“The president of the European Commission is now saying that it could be the second half of December that they will get authorisation – from Pfizer and BioNTech and Moderna – which could mean that for the early part of 2021 we’re in a position to start procuring the vaccine.
“And I have set up a high-level task force to go through the logistics of this because this will be a very big operation logistically in the country, it could change the situation significantly for the better.”
Though Martin stressed that the vaccine is unlikely to be available before Christmas, current developments bode well for 2021.
“We may not be in a position to deliver it before Christmas, but it would be a wonderful Christmas present in the sense of the voucher for the next 12 months,” he said.
Martin did stress, however, that a take-up of around 70% would be required in order for the vaccine to prove effective at eradicating the coronavirus.