Dáil debates

Thursday, 25 February 2021

Health (Amendment) Bill 2021: Second Stage (Resumed)


10:40 am

Photo of Marc MacSharryMarc MacSharry (Sligo-Leitrim, Fianna Fail) | Oireachtas source

I am glad to have the opportunity to make a few points. We all support the legislation to introduce quarantines. I take the view that if we are doing it, we should do it for everybody. During the week, the Tánaiste said that if people are coming from the Isle of Man, there is no Covid there and we do not want to hold them up. The primary issue for me is trying to get back to some level of normality for people who are suffering. All of us, and particularly young people, have had enough of all the restrictions and the difficulty, worry and pain of Covid. Even though it is destroying our aviation industry and so on, if we are implementing a quarantine, we should do it for everybody.

I reiterate my view about whether we have pushed the boat out with our neighbours, particularly the UK. We appreciate that if it has a surplus at the end, it will give the vaccines to us. We have ordered 18 million doses. The issue is delivery dates and scheduling as opposed to supply. The Minister said that we have our orders in and I appreciate that. Is it not possible for those countries that are in a flusher situation to effectively lend us 2 million or 3 million doses which we can replenish in April or May when they come to us, so that we can ramp up here much quicker?

While the manufacturers were saying at the beginning, based on clinical trials, particularly the Pfizer trials, that there needed to be three or four weeks between the first and second injections, the UK, Israel and the United States went a different route, deciding on 12 weeks. Their data are based on many millions of people, much more than in a clinical trial, and they have adopted a 12-week approach. According to the Scottish data which were published the day before yesterday, 84% efficacy was proven. While I appreciate our Chief Medical Officer and deputy chief medical officer saying that we needed to stick to the rules and that we should stick to the three weeks for the maximum possible efficiency, other countries have taken a calculated risk and it has worked. If we did the same here, we could double or triple our rate of vaccinations and get to that level of protection, at 84% efficacy, that has been achieved in Scotland, the UK, the US, Israel and elsewhere. I appeal to the Minister to do that. The evidence is there now and it can lead to a much earlier timeframe for having all of our people vaccinated, which has to be the priority because it assists us in getting back to some level of normality.


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