Ireland is facing a “big debate” over whether we should vaccinate the under-30s or send supply to developing countries, according to Professor Luke O’Neill.
As of Saturday, Ireland had administered nearly 1.6 million vaccine doses – including 1.14 million first doses.
HSE Chief Executive Paul Reid has said the vaccine rollout now has “really strong momentum” – with over 200,000 doses administered last week and even higher targets set for this week.
However, the outlook at a global level is “not great,” according to Trinity Professor Luke O'Neill.
“We have given a billion doses out, which is a tremendous number on one level – that is either two doses or one dose – but that means nearly 90% of the world is unvaccinated,” he said.
“As we know, there were two million cases in India last week and 20,000 deaths. In Brazil, there were 400,000 cases and 17,000 deaths.
“So, clearly the mission is going to move on now to getting the vaccine from high-income countries to the developing world.”
“One suggestion that is very striking is, we shouldn’t be giving the vaccine to under-30s until we've vaccinated all the vulnerable in developing countries because, obviously, the under-30s are at low risk and they are unlikely to develop severe disease.
“So, if we have done all the vulnerable people say in Ireland, is it justified then to start giving away vaccines?”
Professor O’Neill noted that Sweden has already committed to sending one million doses to developing countries.
“There is a move now towards giving up the surplus, which is very important because not only is it ethically sound because there are vulnerable people in these countries that need vaccinating but the second reason is to stop variants," he said.
“So, there is kind of self-interest part to this too because obviously the more widespread the vaccination in the world, the less likely it is that variants will emerge – so we are going to see this debate now more and more in the coming weeks.”