Ireland’s vaccination plans may be delayed by the slow arrival of supplies of the Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccine which is expected to be approved for use in Europe within days.
It emerged yesterday that Johnson & Johnson has told the European Union it is facing supply issues that may complicate plans to deliver 55 million doses of its vaccine to member states in the second quarter of this year.
Earlier, HSE chief Paul Reid admitted the 600,000 ordered doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine will be delayed, perhaps until May or June, and initial supplies will be low.
The US vaccine has been described as a ‘game-changer’ because it just requires one shot and it is easy to handle.
Mr Reid told the Oireachtas health committee they were expecting 3.8 million doses of four vaccines, including Pfizer BioNTech, Moderna, Oxford AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson in April, May and June.
“The next quarter will see some swings and roundabouts between suppliers and some other suppliers coming on board as well,” he said.
The news comes amid ongoing evidence of the impact of vaccines in nursing homes where the positivity rate is now 0.2pc of residents.
There is also a 95pc reduction in infections in hospital staff, Health Minister Stephen Donnelly told RTÉ News.
Up to Saturday 373,149 people had received a first dose of vaccine and 149,920 people were fully vaccinated.
The number of newly diagnosed cases of the virus nationally fell to 311 yesterday .
However, 30 more Covid-19 related deaths were reported .
The number of patients hospitalised with the virus also dropped further to 397 and the number in intensive care fell to 94.
Yesterday’s cases included 135 in Dublin, 29 in Kildare, 21 in Cork, 18 in Limerick, 14 in Louth with the remaining 94 cases spread across the country.
No cases were identified in the Border counties of Don egal, Monaghan, Cavan and Leitrim.
Meanwhile, new international research involving 116 countries including Ireland advises surgery should be delayed for seven weeks after a patient tests positive for coronavirus.
Research shows surgery that takes place between 0 and 6 weeks after diagnosis is associated with increased mortality.
The research published in Anaesthesia – a journal of the Association of Anaesthetists – said while it is known that infection with the virus during surgery increases mortality, and international guidelines recommend surgery should be delayed for patients testing positive for Covid-19, there is little evidence regarding the optimal duration of delay.
The study included 140,231 patients in 1,674 hospitals undergoing surgery in October 2020. P articipating hospitals included all patients undergoing a surgical procedure.
The report is the biggest collaborative surgery study ever undertaken.
The study is by the Covid-19 Surg Collaborative, a global collaboration of over 15,000 surgeons working together to collect a range of data on the Covid-19 pandemic.
This study’s lead authors are public health specialist Dr Dmitri Nepogodiev and Dr Aneel Bhangu , a surgeon of the University of Birmingham in the UK.