Ireland considers European regulator’s green light for AstraZeneca jab

The Irish rollout of the vaccine was paused in an ‘abundance of caution’ over concerns around blood clots.

Ireland considers European regulator’s green light for AstraZeneca jab

Ireland’s top health advisers are considering a ruling by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) that the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine is “safe and effective”.

The Republic paused its rollout of the AstraZeneca jab in an “abundance of caution” following the raising of concerns around blood clots.

Deputy chief medical officer Dr Ronan Glynn said he welcomed the EMA making its position clear.

Speaking at a National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet) press conference, Dr Glynn said the National Immunisation Advisory Committee was meeting with counterparts across Europe following the statement by the EMA on the AstraZeneca Covid vaccine.

“They’ll be considering it further this evening and tomorrow morning, and the HPRA (Health Products Regulatory Authority) are reviewing the statement and the findings,” he said.

“We’ll be deliberating between the organisations tonight and tomorrow morning, and we’ll issue an update tomorrow once we have come to a position.”

He added: “Just to reassure, we will respond quickly to whatever decision is recommended and communicated onwards to us.

“Despite this disappointment, we should, in my view, say the glass is half full.

“We have administered around 620,000 vaccinations, and we are witnessing, every day, the collapsing infection rates amongst residents in long-term care facilities, on healthcare workers and the oldest age groups in the population.”

The HSE anticipates that between 70,000 and 75,000 vaccines will be administered next week in the over-70s population.

Mr Reid said there was “some concern” that the daily case numbers were no longer falling as they had been in recent weeks.

“There are early warning signals for us that the brakes are being slightly put on in terms of improvements we’ve been making over the previous few weeks,” he said.

“Because the rate of decrease in hospitalisations for patients with Covid has slowed, particularly over the last few weeks, it’s actually stalled.

“And the slowing in reduction of the hospitalised cases mirrors the slowing in reduction of the overall cases happening in the community.”

He added: “Community testing demand has increased by over 9% in the past week, community demand for testing has increased for the first time in five weeks.

“That’s just one of the early trends, early warning indicators I mentioned earlier on.”

The health service has now carried out four million coronavirus tests and conducted one million close contact calls.

The seven days up to March 17 saw 3,646 new cases notified, an increase of 6% on the previous week.

Almost 46% of new cases over the past two weeks were among people aged 19 to 44.

Some 26% of new cases in that period were among children aged 0 to 18 years, and about 8.6% were among people aged 65 years and over.

Over the last 14 days, of the 7,048 new cases notified between March 3 and 16, 6% of them (422) had been admitted to hospital.

No further deaths with coronavirus were reported in the Republic of Ireland on Thursday, but 582 new confirmed cases were notified by the Department of Health.

Meanwhile, as of March 15, 620,580 doses of coronavirus vaccine had been administered in Ireland.

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