A WHO expert says Irish people shouldn't be thinking coronavirus vaccine progress here is moving slower than elsewhere.
David Nabarro says the process in the UK is still a 'work in progress', despite the government there giving the green light for a vaccination programme to begin.
Britain has become the first western nation to approve the use of the Pfizer / BioNTech vaccine.
Here, the National Public Health Emergency Team is meeting today to discuss Ireland’s rollout of a vaccine.
EU regulators will meet to assess the vaccine at the end of the month, with ministers saying the first people could be vaccinated in Ireland in the early new year.
David Nabarro is the World Health Organisation's special envoy on COVID-19 and professor of global health at Imperial College London.
He told Newstalk Breakfast the UK is initially just set to focus on vaccinating particular groups of people.
Boris Johnson himself yesterday said it will be 'some months' before the vaccine is administered to many people within the most vulnerable groups.
Mr Nabarro said: “Everyone in Ireland should not be thinking they’re moving slower than others.
"What’s happening in the UK is still a work in progress, and I do sense… there’s still some distance to go before people will receive their shots."
'We have to be absolutely certain'
The Pfizer vaccine needs to be stored at very low temperatures, and Mr Nabarro said people should not underestimate the logistical challenges involved.
He also said it's likely going to be some time before the WHO can fully recommend a vaccine.
He explained: “We understand everyone wants to go quick and be issuing the vaccine as soon as is at all possible. But wherever it can be done, we advocate that procedures are followed.
"For the WHO, we have to study the data super, super carefully before we can make any judgement about recommendations to make.
“At the moment, it’s up to individual countries or blocs of countries like the European Union. It will take us a bit longer to do all the necessary diligence we have to do - when we start saying we advocate the use of a vaccine, we have to be absolutely certain of our data… even if everyone says it’s OK."
He also said he 'absolutely understands' why some people may be hesitant about taking a vaccine that has been developed so rapidly.
He said it's vital that those people come to the decision to receive it themselves, after being assured and convinced it is safe.