Ireland’s delivery of the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine could be smaller and later than expected, as the Department of Health tonight confirmed problems with the delivery schedule.
The manufacturing company today briefed the EU Commission.
A department spokeswoman said: “AstraZeneca has briefed EU member states surrounding issues with the scheduling of deliveries post-market authorisation.”
HSE and health department officials will meet the company with other EU leaders next week in an urgent bid to solve the problem before the vaccine is approved on Friday.
A spokesman for the European Commission in Dublin said tonight any changes to the shipment for Ireland will be communicated directly to the Minister for Health by the manufacturing company.
Referring to the Commission, he said: “We want to have vaccines as quickly as possible and in line with the agreements.”
In a media statement, AstraZeneca said: “Initial volumes will be lower than originally anticipated due to reduced yields at a manufacturing site within our European supply chain”.
They plan to supply “tens of millions of doses in February and March to the European Union”.
However, thereported the first shipment could drop to 40m doses instead of the expected 100m.
Ireland’s hope lies with this vaccine, as 3.3m doses are ordered for over the coming months. It is cheaper and easier to store than the type of vaccine in use currently. The Government had hoped the AstraZeneca vaccine would allow it to significantly ramp up the rollout of vaccines next month.
As recently as Wednesday, Taoiseach Micheal Martin was expecting a delivery by mid-February.
The setback was confirmed as 52 further deaths related to Covid-19 were reported by the National Public Health Emergency Team today.
There have also been a further 2,371 confirmed cases in Ireland.