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The EU will be judged on its ability to rescue the vaccine roll-out

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Much hinges on deliveries of some 300 million doses in the second quarter. Photo: Reuters/Benoit Tessier

Much hinges on deliveries of some 300 million doses in the second quarter. Photo: Reuters/Benoit Tessier

Much hinges on deliveries of some 300 million doses in the second quarter. Photo: Reuters/Benoit Tessier

As you ponder how to best enjoy your daily promenade within the 5km perimeter of your pandemic precinct, it may not pay to consider how the other half lives.

Reports this week Royal Caribbean is set to offer “fully vaccinated sailings” between Israel, Cyprus and the Greek Islands from May will gladden some hearts.

Passengers will be vaccinated against Covid-19. Sailings include stops like Santorini, Mykonos, Athens and Limassol.

“Jabs for the boys”, so to speak, for those fortunate enough to afford them. But for most of us stuck on dry dock and here for the foreseeable, any hopes of broadening our horizons are still tethered to the EU’s vaccination schedule.

All eyes are now on Brussels with the bloc’s reputation firmly on the line.

Any further delays in the roll-out will undermine confidence in its core competence.

EU officials are now working on a “vaccine passport”, which they hope will revive international travel for summer holidays.

According to Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, details of the: “digital green pass” will be set out this month. They will contain testing and vaccination data. “The aim is to gradually enable them (EU citizens) to move safely in the EU or abroad for work or tourism,” she said.

Laudable and reassuring as it is to look ahead to “summers of hope”, what we need more than anything right now is a literal shot in the arm, not a metaphorical one.

One can sympathise with southern EU states anxious to get their moribund tourism industries firing again. Yet a return to the sun lounger and cocktail bar seems a bit previous.

Vaccine passports without a blanket vaccine roll-out are of dubious value. In the war with the coronavirus we will not be fighting them on the beaches.

In this “arms race” the only shots that matter will be administered by GPs nationwide.

As of yesterday Ireland has received 499,200 vaccine doses. We have been assured from April we can look forward to vaccinating up to 250,000 a week. While it is encouraging the number of Covid-19 patients in hospital has fallen below 500 for the first time this year, we still must protect ourselves. Deliverance from lockdown ultimately depends on the EU meeting its targets.

Pressure to do so is beginning to tell.

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According to the Financial Times, a recent meeting of German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s cabinet saw an outburst from her finance minister Olaf Scholz. He described the Commission’s vaccination strategy as a “total s**it-show”.

Ms von der Leyen’s commitment to an industrial mobilisation aimed at battling the new variants gives the Commission a shot at redemption.

Much hinges on deliveries of some 300 million doses in the second quarter, which it is banking on.

Its ability to secure the promised supply, and oversee equitable distribution across the continent, may be its sternest test since its foundation.

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