Jack Quann
Jack Quann

07.51 4 Feb 2021


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Chair of the National Immunisation Advisory Committee (NIAC) has said giving vaccines proven to be good at preventing transmission to younger people makes sense.

It comes after the State was advised to offer people over the age of 70 the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccines where possible.

The AstraZeneca vaccine is due to feature heavily in the next stage of the programme - however, the recommendation from the NIAC may force a re-think.

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The AstraZeneca jab does not require the same super-cold storage as the mRNA-based Pfizer and Moderna offerings – meaning it is easier to rollout to older people through family doctors.

The NIAC recommendation makes it clear that all three vaccines are suitable for use for all ages; however, it says people over 70 should be given an mRNA vaccine where possible.

Professor Karina Butler told Newstalk Breakfast that such a move makes sense.

"Even from the beginning of this, we said 'Well if we had a vaccine that was proven to be good at preventing transmission' then ideally you want to give that to the younger cohort who are out and about the most, and may be involved in the transmission of it more than the older people who are cocooning safely."

"So you may have two different things going on here in the sense that you want maximum protection and rapid protection, as fast as you can, for those who are most vulnerable.

"And you want to break the spread as much as you can in those who may be more at-risk of acquiring infection because they're out and about - but have a much lower risk of transmitting it and passing it on.

"And the combination together might give us the mix where we get to where we've got a level of immunity in the population as a whole, that can actually get us out of the situation that we're in at the moment".

She said every vaccine that works "is going to find its place - if it's safe and it's effective, we're there with this range of vaccines that we have".

She said all considerations are being taken into account.

"In a way we've gone from having no choices to being, in a way, spoiled for choice".

"There are still a number of people in those first two priority groups who are not above 70 years of age, who remain to be vaccinated - and that may be an area that this vaccine is going to be used".

"Really our goal is to get everybody vaccinated as efficiently as possible".

And she also suggested that Russia's Sputnik V vaccine, which has been shown to be 91.6% effective against symptomatic COVID-19, could be on the cards.

"Sometimes we feel if it's developed in a country we're not familiar with there must be something wrong - but this might be very good.

"Anything that is helpful will be welcomed".

"I think they are going to be submitting it to the regulatory agencies as well.

"Everything that can combat this infection - and particularly if something comes out with a 90/95% efficacy that can be stored in a refrigerator - we'd all welcome that".

Giving vaccines better at preventing transmission to younger people could see 'level of immunity' in population - NIAC chair

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Main image: The Moderna COVID-19 vaccine and syringes are seen in California, USA. Picture by: Rishi Deka/SIPA USA/PA Images

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AstraZeneca Coronavirus Vaccine Moderna NIAC National Immunisation Advisory Committee Newstalk Breakfast Pfizer-Biontech Professor Karina Butler Sputnik V Vaccine

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