Ireland needs to look outside of EU to fix vaccine supply shortage as just 3.2% of Irish population fully inoculated
Ireland needs to look outside of the EU to fix the vaccine supply shortage as just 3.2% of the Irish population is fully inoculated.
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ISRAEL did on Sunday what we can only dream of doing — reopened all bars, restaurants, and cafes to vaccinated ‘green pass holders.’
The photograph here shows the lucky ones among the 3.9million Israelis fully inoculated against Covid as they sip a beer or a cold glass of white wine in the early evening warmth in the capital Tel Aviv.
The image is striking. It shouldn’t be, of course. It is a life lived normally. But it’s a scene we haven’t witnessed for a year now.
I wanted you to see it because it gives us a glimpse of what life might be like again if we get our act together with the shambles that has become the rollout.
Israel did this time what it has always done since its fraught inception in 1946, protected its people.
It bought up millions upon millions of doses of the Pfizer vaccine early doors, meaning it stole a march on the rest of the world when it came to putting needles in arms.
The militarised nature of its society meant it had no issues rolling out its jabs across the narrow strip of land by the Mediterranean it calls home.
Out of a population of 9,053,000, it has administered 8,749,514 doses; 55 percent of Israelis have received at least one shot of the vaccine. In contrast, 42.7 percent are fully inoculated, meaning they have had the requisite two doses.
They did it all in 11 weeks—a remarkable feat of ingenuity and determination.
Vaccinating so many of its citizens has had an astonishing effect on the spread of Covid in Israel.
A recent study involving 1.8million people — the vast majority over 70 — showed just 12 deaths from Covid and 12,000 cases recorded among those who had been vaccinated.
ISRAEL BEATS VIRUS
A top doctor said that the entire country would require just a handful of ICU beds to deal with lingering Covid cases in the months and years ahead.
Israel has become the first country in the world to beat the virus.
That’s not to say Israel won’t experience further bumps along the road. Of course, there will be setbacks here and there.
A deadly virus is a dangerous one, as it struggles to stay alive. So it will mutate and attempt to re-infect where it can.
However, Covid is coming up against a formidable opponent.
Pfizer, the one they mainly used in Israel, has been 94.5 percent effective in the field. It battles variants valiantly too.
I’m impatient to be where the Israelis are. I’m sure you are too.
We’re not asking for much – to escape the house to go for a drink with a friend or spend a couple of hours around a table with someone we love, sharing a good meal, a nice drop, and a few laughs up close.
Or maybe a walk around town in the midst of the crowd again, ambling along, not worrying about the proximity of others, but wanting the hustle and bustle and the loud repartee.
A packed pub, oh heaven can wait till I am in one again. Swaying side by side with friends and strangers as we watch a match on the big screen or belt out songs out of tune.
How do we get to where Israel is, and fast?
WE’VE BEEN LET DOWN
Well, since we signed up to the European Medicines Agency vaccine plan in December, we have been let down at every turn when it comes to supply.
HSE chief Paul Reid admitted as much this week when he gave a jabs update to the Oireachtas health committee.
We had been promised 1.7million doses from European supply in the first three months of 2021.
We will be lucky to get half of that. Anything more than 850,000 doses delivered by the end of March will be a bonus.
Now, none of this is the fault of the HSE, who are doing a sterling job delivering and administering the vaccines as they arrive in the country.
We are the fifth-best in the EU for doses administered.
As I write, 536,671 jabs have gone into arms; 382,528 people have received the first dose, 154,089 citizens are fully inoculated, 7.3 percent of the population have had at least one shot, and 3.2 percent are fully vaccinated.
But it’s nowhere near enough more than two months into the rollout. We’re halfway to where we should be right now.
The power-brokers in Brussels have let us down. The EU has failed miserably, where the UK, the US, and Israel have succeeded.
GOVT HAS FAILED
Our Government has failed too, in cravenly bowing to Brussels at every turn.
It has made the political decision to wait for the promise of more vaccines in April and May. Like waiting for Godot.
Reid admitted yesterday the HSE has had to change rollout plans up to 20 times since January because we hadn’t received the promised supply from EU stockpiles.
As a result of the EU’s vaccine shortcomings, several EU nations have broken ranks – with Brussels’ explicit permission, I might add — to source extra supplies outside the EU bloc. Denmark and Austria have secured extra doses from Israel, for example.
The Slovaks and Czechs have gone to Russia and China.
NOT TIED TO THE EU
Could you not believe what our Government says? We are not tied to the EU for vaccine supply.
There is absolutely nothing stopping us from concluding deals where we can.
Taoiseach Michael Martin said he asked Boris Johnson but got rebuffed.
He said he asked France and Germany for their spare doses of AstraZeneca but got told to shove off.
Go back again, and again and again until they change their mind.
You should also ring up Joe Biden and piggyback on his plan to have every American vaccinated by the end of May.
The Yanks are way ahead in inoculating their people — 75million of 300million have had a shot.
Biden has ordered Johnson & Johnson to keep its factories open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to make sure America has Covid defeated before June.
You can be damn sure Joe, a proud Irishman, would do all he could to help the old sod in its time of need.
All Martin has to do is pick up the phone. Supply shortfalls will plague our vaccine rollout unless we get imaginative.
The EU approved the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine yesterday.
However, as our politicians like to call it, the’ game-changer will arrive in miserable dribs and drabs for at least six more weeks before supplies might start to increase. ‘Might’ being the operative word.
The Government’s promise of 250,000 vaccinations a week from April 1 is cloud cuckoo land.
The prospect of us opening up like Israel is in the far distance.
Our Government is shackled to the changing-with-the-wind whims of the pharma giants and the wreckage of the EU vaccine plan.
Neither will see us to the end of this pandemic any time soon. And that’s the problem right there.
It’s time the Government looked outside the box to secure Irish citizens’ safety. It’s what the Israelis did.
The seed of the EU’s demise may very well lie in the right shambles it has made of securing enough vaccine to protect its people.
If our Government continues to stick rigidly like a limpid to the EU vaccine plan, it won’t be long in becoming despised – and we don’t tolerate failed politicians very long, do we?
The dose of Rollout Reality Needed.
OUR political masters were at it again yesterday, lobbing wild promises of the numbers that will be vaccinated by such and such a date as if they were throwing confetti in the air at a royal wedding.
Minister Simon Coveney, of all people, went on Morning Ireland to say that by the end of June, between 4.5 and five million of us will have been vaccinated.
Where did he pull that figure from? His arse? What is he basing it on? What does he know that the rest of us don’t?
Is there a magic vaccine mountain the Minister has seen that the rest of us haven’t?
He knows full well that up to five million jabs won’t be administered by the end of June.
It just couldn’t be done, even if we had sufficient supply. It’d be a monumental achievement if it happened.
Here are the maths: to do 4.5million vaccinations from now until the end of June, the HSE would have to administer 236,842 vaccines EVERY WEEK.
It can barely muster 80,000 a week now as it is.
Coveney is an intelligent guy; he’s a superb operator as Foreign Minister – but his forecasting skills are those of a blind clairvoyant.
We don’t have the supply of vaccines yet to do what he desperately wants to do.
It’s his job to source extra doses, not go on the radio and tell tall tales about the rollout.
SOMEONE sent me a list of classic Irish nicknames on the blower during the week, and I reminisced about my days in school when monikers were king.
Mine was Demo. My buddies were Grapes, Nil, and The Doll.
It evolved to become Black Santy at some stage in Fifth Year. I can’t remember why. We were cruel.
Anyway, that list I was sent, here it is. Hope you get a laugh . . .
- I knew a fella who had one hand bigger than the other, and they called him The Clock.
- Had a teacher with a twitch in his eye. He was known as an Indicator.
- A lad from Dundalk called Gerry had heart surgery, and they nicknamed him Gerry and the Pacemaker.
- A pub I once worked in had a local called Joe Malone. When his wife died, he became Home Alone.
- Know a lad in Cork. He’s tall and thin, so they call him Six O’Clock.
- l This lad got engaged three times. He was known as Lord of the Rings.
- l A fella I know is called Bungalow . . . feck all upstairs.
- l This boy was called Pothole; everyone used to avoid him.
- l There was a fella called Enda May. People just called him June.
- l This guy went to Australia on a year’s visa and was back a week later. They called him Boomerang.
- l Lad in town here known as Bomb Scare — as soon as he comes in, the pub empties.
- l This guy used to wear the same coat all the time, so his friends called him Dulux -— he only needed one coat
- l I knew a lad that had only four fingers on one hand; he was called Kit-Kat.
- l Our local drug dealer delivers so quick he’s called Instagram.
Separated at Birth
I WANTED to do a certain Separated at Birth this week — one that had me mildly giggling to myself.
Alas, we live in a shallow, easily-offended, jellyfish-for-a-backbone world, so I had to self-censor.
Alien to my soul, such swims in the ethical sea. I can’t even allude to it; such is the ferocity of the woke reign of terror blanketing the world in unsmiling misery.
So, this week’s selection is borrowed from the world of the absurd, where truth resides, mostly.
It’s the Pope, on the right, dressed in white, and on the left, Iraq’s Shiite leader, in black.
I CARE not a jot for the Royal family, nor do I give a damn about Harry and Meghan.
Their soap opera lives are of no meaning, save for serving as a distraction from the misery of our own existence.
They’re all wealthy. They live in a world far removed from ours. They orbit a different star.
Good luck to them. I have nothing bad to say about them.
I will say this, though. Piers Morgan, the self-proclaimed Meghan-hater, is not a very nice man.
I met him a few times. He’s as rude and bombastic as his TV persona suggests—a snark without an ounce of grace.