Northern Ireland’s vaccine milestone shows benefit of leaving the EU

The argument on the rights and wrongs of Brexit might rage for many years to come, but the benefits of the UK being able to go its own way over coronavirus vaccinations is beyond dispute.

Monday, 28th June 2021, 6:00 am
Updated Monday, 28th June 2021, 6:39 pm
News Letter editorial

Northern Ireland passed the two million milestone for Covid jabs yesterday, an enormously significant moment on the day that people could arrive at the SSE Arena mass vaccination centre without having an appointment.

The startling vaccination numbers mean that Northern Ireland is in a much better place than the Republic of Ireland, whose vaccine programme has been hindered by its continuing membership of the embattered European Union.

You only have to look at the situation regarding hospitality in the Republic, where indoor dining is still not permitted weeks after it returned in Northern Ireland. A government meeting is due to be held early this week in Dublin on whether the planned July 5 open date will be adhered to, with some scientists south of the border calling for yet more delays.

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The Republic also decided to give up the football matches it intended to host during Euro 2020 because the Dublin government could not guarantee the attendance of spectators. All the other host nations made that guarantee, with Hungary hosting capacity 60,000 crowds in a tournament that has lifted the mood across Europe.

Northern Ireland’s vaccine success, with 60 per cent of adults having received both jabs, and 80 per cent the first jab, also means that we should have little to fear from the rising Covid case numbers in the Province.

New cases of Covid-19 climbed as high as 261 yesterday, way above average numbers earlier in the month, with the more contagious Delta variant now prevalent. However, this should not heighten fears of a return to lockdown restrictions. Vaccines may not guarantee that you don’t get Covid-19 but in the vast majority of people, they should prevent serious illness.