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DUP Leader Arlene Foster MLA, alongside DUP Health Committee colleagues Pam Cameron MLA and Jonathan Buckley MLA, met with representatives of AstraZeneca this morning about the roll out of their vaccine in Northern Ireland.

After the meeting Mrs Foster said,

“This was a very useful and constructive discussion where we were able to explore the evidence behind protection with an interval of up to 12 weeks for 2nd dose, efficacy in over 65s, pregnant women and groups resistant to vaccination.

AstraZeneca has committed to provide 100m doses for the UK, and it is their intention to have 30m vaccinated by end of first quarter. I was encouraged that they have established 20 independent supply chain arms for different parts of the world and believe their UK supply line is extremely robust as it is now extensively an internal UK operation.

Like many others, AstraZeneca also raised concern about the impact of the Northern Ireland Protocol and the supply of medicines to Northern Ireland from next year. There is currently a derogation, but Government must be awake to this challenge and explain how they are going to get medicines to Northern Ireland from Jan 2022.

I assured AstraZeneca that we were already raising these matters with the Government and I would be meeting Michael Gove in the coming days where we would again be raising this issue as well as others.

We have agreed to meet again shortly and continue this dialogue.”