The vaccine rollout in Ireland depends on European deals with the manufacturing companies, Taoiseach Mícháel Martin says.
This, in turn, means another six months of waiting could be likely.
Mr Martin said normal life will not return until the summer at the earliest and the return to normal will be “tentative”.
“I think the first six months of 2021 will see improvements but we certainly won’t have normality in the first six months as we knew it,” he said in Government Buildings.
"We're very much dependent on the European deals with the pharmaceutical companies."
He also told the Dáil that European Union leaders had been briefed by European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen that manufacturing vaccines “will ramp up certainly [in] March onwards and she would have identified May-June as critical months in terms of high volumes of vaccines coming in”.
He said: “So I think from the summer on, I think we’ll see a degree of normality returning. But I can’t be definite about that."
This follows reports of an additional 1,025 cases of COVID-19 in the State, with 2 further deaths. The last time the figure was over 1,000 was on October 25.
Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Holohan has also confirmed that the new UK variant of the virus has been detected in Ireland.
He has urged people who arrive from the UK to strictly self-isolate for 14 days, which means no interaction with others at all.
Full details on that advice can be found at hse.ie.