A strategy for the roll-out of a coronavirus vaccine is expected to be delivered to Government in early December.
Taoiseach Micheál Martin met with the head of the National Vaccines Taskforce, Professor Brian MacCraith today, who hopes to deliver the strategy by December 11th.
The Government will also be involved intense discussions with public health chiefs this week to deliver a plan on exiting the level five lockdown by Thursday or Friday, the Taoiseach said.
Mr Martin said: “I spoke this morning with the chairperson of the National Vaccines Taskforce, Brian McCraith.
“They’re working very energetically on this. He hopes to have a strategy for Government by the December 11th, in terms of how we will distribute vaccines.
“It will require a national effort to get the vaccines out properly and safely, and working with all stakeholders and saying to people generally to cooperate with us.
“We will need all hands on deck for a national effort around the vaccine as well, when they come through the safety protocols.”
But he warned that the arrival of a potential vaccine “is not a moment to relax or to say we can now stand back”.
“It actually is a moment to double down and say we can see the horizon ahead of us in terms of the vaccine.”
Mr Martin said he will meet with the Coalition party leaders, Leo Varadkar and Eamon Ryan this evening to discuss the strategy for exiting lockdown.
A Cabinet meeting will follow tomorrow morning, ahead of further engagements between Government and the National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet).
Mr Martin said: “Nphet will obviously give its advice, but Government will decide how we exit Level 5.
“That will be a decision of Government that will be taken this week, either Thursday or Friday.”
He added: “Ireland is second best in the EU in terms of the low number of cases. Level 3, the restrictions in household visits and then Level 5 did work, and has worked.
“There’s been a narrative around this that I don’t think has been helpful or accurate. It has worked, we’ve brought the numbers well down.
“This level five has been difficult, and the restrictions on households has been difficult on people. That has been very hard for people. We get that, we understand that.
“The good news is that what you are doing is working. We’re managing our hospitals in terms of ICU numbers and in terms of hospitalisation. We’ve kept our schools open thanks to all involved.”