Naturally, the announcement prior to Christmas that the Pfizer BioNTech and Moderna Covid vaccines were good to go came as a great relief to people who at last could see an end to the “new normal.”
However, as Gary Kavanagh pointed out on this platform here, the initial optimism has been tempered, with many questioning the seeming slowness of the EU in approving the vaccine by the European Medical Agency, and then making it available through a “joint procurement” programme.
Ireland is part of that, but as with the fisheries debacle as part of the Brexit deal, the new Covid fund, and of course the terms of the Bank Bailout, the little boys and girls in Dublin who press their noses against the panes of glass in Brussels generally seem to get ignored or sent to the back of the queue.
Autograph hunting would possibly be a more productive investment of their time than pretending to be part of the “team.” They are to the Commission what the apprentice who cleaned George Best’s boots was to Matt Busby’s Manchester United.
Equity and all that mallarky are the by-words in everything European. Which is why we no longer have small boys cleaning chimneys as was common during the Dark Ages before 1973. So of course all states will get an equal share of the vaccine and on the same timetable.
Well, not so apparently. Just a few statistics from the World Data Bank would indicate that Ireland is a bit of a laggard when it comes to the jabs. Up to the close of jabbing on Thursday, a grand total of 15,314 people had been given the vaccine here. That compares to over 82,500 in Denmark, a country comparative in population size, and 417,060 in Germany, and 160,359 in Poland.
Ireland is among the slowest to administer among all EU states. Perhaps more tellingly with regard to a state that would have you believe that all good things shine from the bottom of some bureaucrat sitting under a blue starry flag, the Brits have already given the vaccine to over 1.3 million people. It would appear that the EU method is not the most efficient one.
Now, all of that comes with various caveats and how quickly it might turn the tide, but it would appear to be the case that the EU’s “unmitigated disaster”, as described by the European Conservatives and Reformists group is a product of a Byzantine bureaucratic complexity.
Even the Germans were giving about the slow pace of approval by the European Medical Agency augmented by the jobsworth’s tardiness in getting the stuff out. The “high demand and low initial supply” has been blamed by the Italians on the fact that the Mafia appears to be wetting its beak in securing supplies and organising its own distribution.
Despite all this, Simon Donnelly told the nation Thursday morning that he was confident that there will be 460,000 batches of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccine (approved at last on Wednesday by the EMA) here by the end of March. I don’t think he said that there would be 460,000 people vaccinated, but remember that figure anyway.
Donnelly did claim that all nursing home residents and staff, as well as frontline workers would be vaccinated by the end of February. Other states have already done this. He claims that “the only constraint would be the arrival of the vaccine.” That is worth reflecting upon, because it sort of suggests that even the most sycophantic of our Europhiles are doubting the omnipotence of our Overlords. Let us hope EU Santy is not listening….
In November a great deal was made about the great part that Ireland would be playing in the roll out of the vaccine. That was because the Pfizer facility at Grange Castle would be assisting their lab in Belgium in testing the vaccine. However, just in case anyone might get carried away with that, it was stated that it was “unlikely” that Pfizer would be actually producing the gear here.
I don’t know the logistics of all of that, but given that Pfizer employs 3,500 people at its plants here and that it recently announced that it was planning a new investment of €300 million that would include 300 new jobs, you would imagine that it would be well placed to at the very least oversee the distribution if not the manufacture of the vaccine. Pfizer is planning to make available 1.3 billion doses of the vaccine in 2021. Surely some of that might be outsourced to its plants here?
Or does that cut out some person with a rubber stamp sitting gazing out of an office somewhere on the Continong as Brendan Behan called it, before it was a super state rather than an interesting collection of diverse countries.
And just in case I have not cheered you up sufficiently, ponder this. According to New York Magazine the Moderna vaccine mRNA-1273 was discovered in January last year. That came about when a Chinese scientist Yong Zhen Zhang, against the orders of the Chinese authorities, shared the genetic sequence of the virus which was just then beginning its Year of Havoc.
Of course, you cannot just bang out some untested vaccine the day after you discover it, but even with the most vigorous testing to Phase III, scientists believe that the vaccine should have been approved and ready for distribution by April 13. Which you will recall was when the entire world was gripped by the panic.
Of course, all vaccines come with a potential downside that embraces political, medical, demographic and other issues. If nothing else, human nature tends to become less rational as some potentially life saving elixir comes on stream. The Mafia know this of old and their instincts kicked in straight away. None of this is aided by the overweening bureaucracy of an aspirant and perhaps already existing superstate. With ambitions perhaps just like the one that gave the world this curse.
Let us hope that the prediction of “considerable cost, bureaucracy, and even some chaos, as we are likely about to see” is both shorter lived and less traumatic than the panic which induced it. Surely the cure can not be worse than the pain?