Northern Ireland reaches a stunning milestone with half of all adults now vaccinated

News Letter editorial of Monday March 29 2021:

Monday, 29th March 2021, 9:20 am
Updated Monday, 29th March 2021, 11:43 am
News Letter editorial

The success of the vaccine rollout in Northern Ireland has been stunning.

From the very beginning the Province had one of the best programmes in the world, with some of the highest per capita jab rates of any country.

This is because the UK as a whole has been among the top of the global table, and Northern Ireland was for a while top of the the four nations of the UK.

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It helps to make up for many of the mistakes that were made in Westminster at the start of the pandemic, which helped contribute to the UK having one of the highest overall death tolls.

That latter statistic might not be as bad as it sounds, because counting methods vary from place to place. But it can be said with confidence that the UK has not even come close to being one of the countries that can claim to have responded best to the Covid crisis.

The vaccine programme has been another matter.

Britain’s world class scientists and univerisities and companies played a major part in the race to find prevention medication for the coronavirus.

Then the UK’s overall wealth, its much loved NHS, and its ability to act now as an independent nation helped to ensure both swift vaccination approval and swift distribution. Now half of Northern Ireland’s adult population has received a jab — 725,000 people, including the most vulnerable groups.

For several weeks the over 50s have been eligible for a vaccine and the first minister Arlene Foster got hers on Saturday. The Republic of Ireland, held up by EU bureaucracy and the week-long suspension of the AstraZeneca vaccine, is much further behind in its programe.

It seems that London is now thinking of helping the Irish Republic to catch up. Mrs Foster has endorsed such a plan.

What a typical display of British decency and generosity, despite Dublin’s ultra loyal support for Brussels intransigence towards London since 2016.

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Alistair Bushe