Stephen McNeice
Stephen McNeice

08.45 1 Apr 2021


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The changes to the COVID-19 vaccine rollout mean the Government has chosen a system that favours 'pragmatism and ease of delivery', according to Professor Sam McConkey.

The infectious diseases expert says he's 'on the fence' as he sees the merits in both the original and new approaches.

However, he believes people will be happy with the approach now being taken as long as the promised vaccine deliveries actually happen over the next few months.

Under the new approach, the rollout will switch to an age-based system once older people and vulnerable cohorts are vaccinated.

The changes have been sharply criticised by the likes of teachers and gardaí, who were expecting to be prioritised under the previous occupation-based approach.

On Newstalk Breakfast, Professor McConkey - Infectious Disease Specialist at the Royal College of Surgeons Ireland (RCSI) -  said he believes the rollout would likely work either way.

New vaccine approach is 'pragmatic and easier to roll out' - McConkey

00:00:00 / 00:00:00

   

He explained: “The option the Government has chosen is one favouring pragmatism, ease of delivery, feasibility… it’s easier to roll it out if it’s just a simple criterion of age. There's nothing complicated.

“When you’ve 19 different categories… everything becomes harder.

"Having really simple criteria allows for a really massive rollout - as long as we get loads of vaccine in the next month or two, I think people will be happy with it.”

In terms of the cautious easing of restrictions over April, Professor McConkey said clearly nobody wants a repeat of the surge in coronavirus cases that we saw over Christmas.

He said: “I think the Government has learned from that experience, which went very badly for all of us. They really, really don’t want to repeat it - we can all make a mistake once… but making the same mistake twice is a very bad thing.

“We do have a hopeful, better way out of this than permanent social distancing, which we all hate. This vaccine gives us that hope - but we just don’t have our million doses right now.”

He added that it's 'quite possible' we'd see a fourth wave over the next month or two if there was a broader reopening than the cautious approach being taken.

Main image: File photo of AstraZeneca vaccine doses in a fridge. Picture by: Sasko Lazarov/RollingNews.ie

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