Ireland's in line for a boost to its Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine supplies after it was confirmed Europe's set to get an extra 50 million doses in the coming months.
Ursula von der Leyen said Europe's in a 'race against time' to vaccinate people, and the extra doses - in addition to the 200 million already agreed - will 'speed up' the process.
The additional doses will be delivered between April and June.
It comes as officials here consider extending the gap between Pfizer vaccine doses to keep the rollout on track.
The extra doses, originally due to be delivered later this year, will be evenly split between EU member states on a pro-rata basis - which would mean over 540,000 extra doses for Ireland.
Previous projections had indicated Ireland was already in line for 2.1 million Pfizer doses over the quarter - almost half the total vaccine deliveries planned for April - June.
Taoiseach Micheál Martin said the extra supply was 'welcome news'.
Welcome news that Ireland will be receiving close to 545,000 extra BioNTech-Pfizer vaccines, starting this month. https://t.co/MD4L0FdHup
— Micheál Martin (@MichealMartinTD) April 14, 2021
The European Commission President today praised Pfizer / BioNTech for being a 'reliable partner' that has delivered on commitments.
She also said negotiations are starting with the firms to secure 1.8 billion doses of the vaccine for 2022 and 2023 - saying the experience so far shows that the mRNA-based vaccines are effective and reliable.
Ms von der Leyen said she wanted to finish the talks as quickly as possible, adding that “other contracts with other companies may follow.”
It comes amid significant setbacks to Europe's vaccination programme due to issues around the Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca vaccines.
Ms von der Leyen said the decision by Johnson & Johnson to delay deliveries to Europe shows how vaccine schedules can be disrupted.
She added that Europe has today reached a milestone of 100 million doses administered - saying officials are now working to vaccinate 70% of the adult population as fast as possible.