The UK plans to offer 3.7 million Covid-19 vaccines to the Republic of Ireland to widen the gap with the EU.
Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster Michael Gove, and Northern Ireland’s Secretary Brandon Lewis are said to have met privately to discuss the plan, which they see as essential to ensure that lockdown restrictions in neighboring Northern Ireland can be lifted with the reduced risk of border crossings triggering a third wave of infections after the Sunday Times.
In the Republic of Ireland, transmission rates are currently significantly higher. 610 new cases were registered on Saturday, compared with 138 in Northern Ireland.
Delivering bumps to Dublin, however, would be the first time Britain has sent deliveries to an EU nation and is “an eye catcher for Brussels” according to a cabinet minister quoted by it Sunday Times.
The EU’s response to the introduction of vaccines has been far less smooth than the UK. The bloc threatened to suspend exports of vaccines or key ingredients to catch up and protect its member states.
“Everyone can see the logic of it. It’s good policy while at the same time solving a real public health problem in Northern Ireland, “a cabinet source told the Sunday newspaper.
“It’s a balancing act to make sure we have enough vaccines to give the UK adult population the second dose. We may be able to offer vaccines to Ireland at Easter. “
When asked about the possible delivery of vaccines to Ireland by Sky News host Sophy Ridge on Sunday morning, Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said the UK still had no surplus so it was premature to think about next steps.
“Our first priority, of course, is to make sure we deliver vaccines in the UK,” he said.
“We clearly don’t have an excess of vaccines right now. Should we get to the point where we have an excess of vaccines, we would make decisions about how to distribute that excess.”
Irish Prime Minister Michael Martin said on March 9 that there would be no question of whether the UK would offer additional vaccines to his country until its own people had been vaccinated.
“The British Prime Minister made it clear to me that vaccinating his people is obviously his top priority,” said the Taoiseach.
“It would be helpful to Ireland if the situation came up, but for now he has to focus on vaccinating his own people. Until then he won’t be able to give any vaccines to anyone and he pointed this out to me, which I thought was pretty obvious from the start. “
Currently around 55 percent of adults in the UK have received their first push, so the prospect is still a long way off.
Sir Jeremy Farrar, a science adviser to the government’s Sage team, said the UK must “start dividing its extra doses” and warned of “vaccine nationalism”.
“The world will not be safe as long as there is no single country fighting the virus. If it spreads, there is a risk that it will mutate to the extent that our vaccines and treatments stop working. This goes beyond ethics – it is a scientific and economic imperative. “
While future vaccine surpluses were earmarked for developing countries, the cabinet is also reportedly planning to route some supplies to continental Europe to improve the situation in countries like France and Germany, where dissatisfaction with the state’s response to the pandemic has created an issue Increase support for extremist groups.
“That is fear [Emmanuel] Macron messed up so much that it could mean we’d end up dealing with it [far-right leader] Marine Le Pen is elected, ”said a Whitehall source The times. “Nobody wants that.”
A spokesman for the Ministry of Health and Social Affairs said The independent one: “Our first priority is to protect the UK public and the introduction of vaccines is proceeding rapidly. We remain on track to offer a first dose to all UK over 50s by April 15th and all UK adults by the end of July as we continue to cautiously reopen society via our roadmap.
“We don’t have a surplus of vaccines right now, but we will consider how these will be distributed as they become available.”