Getting more people vaccinated with a first Covid-19 vaccination dose is better for the overall population than having fewer people with two, said Irish Epidemiologist Dr Susan Hopkins.
Deputy Director of Public Health England, Dr Hopkins, who is from Kildare, said the UK strategy of not holding vaccine supply for second doses is more effective for the overall population of the country.
Speaking on RTÉ Radio 1’s Sunday with Miriam, she said: “We decided to roll out the vaccine on a single dose for the first six weeks to get as many people vaccinated as possible because the fact is having more people vaccinated with some level of immunity will have a better effect on the population.
“Of course, the vaccine may have a slightly better effect when people have the two vaccinations in the first four weeks.
“There are trade-offs to individuals on the population but if we had given two doses to people then we would only have half the people vaccinated by now.”
When asked if she believes the vaccine roll-out in Ireland is slower than that of the UK, Dr Hopkins said they are at an advantage because Oxford University was funded to develop a vaccine.
"Oxford University was funded to develop their vaccine… and that basically meant that we were in a very good place to have vaccines, especially the AstraZeneca vaccine.
“We have 14 and a half million people vaccinated today. Everyone in the over 70’s age group will have been offered a vaccine by this week and we’re moving down the age groups now to the clinically vulnerable to the over 65’s.”
Unlike Ireland, the UK is administering the AstraZeneca vaccine to the over 65’s group.
Following other European countries, Ireland decided not to administer the AstraZeneca vaccine to this group as although it is proven to be safe, clinical experts said there’s not enough evidence to support it’s efficacy.
However, on Wednesday, scientists who advise the World Health Organization (WHO) recommended the use of the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine for all adults.
Over a fortnight ago it was also approved by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) for all adults, including over 65s.
In a statement, the EMA said the “quality, safety, and efficiency” of the vaccine has been assessed and it has been approved for use in the EU.