The DUP MP said " Thankfully the UK was at the forefront of rolling out an early Covid vaccination programme and this has delivered tangible benefits. Having made such positive early progress it is vital we don't fall back. The Belfast Trust has highlighted that up to 70% of Covid admissions to hospitals are people who have not been vaccinated, including young people in their 20s and 30s.
It is deeply regrettable that both the Irish Taoiseach and EU officials have chosen to try and make political points about the Irish Republic eventually making up some lost ground in the vaccination programme while ignoring the past number of months when tens of thousands have died, many as a result of the EU's decision in December not to embark on a comprehensive early roll out of the vaccine.
Since 1st March there have been 6,500 reported deaths in the UK, while the equivalent figures in France, Italy and Germany are 25,000, 31,000 and 21,000 respectively. We may never know how many would not have died had the EU acted differently in December? The figures show the power that the vaccination programme has and the benefits accrued from that strong early roll-out. It is through continuing to build on that good work that we can achieve the relaxation of the remaining restrictions.
Whilst there will be a temptation for some countries to pick and choose areas to focus on in order to demonstrate 'success', ultimately it is through preventing infections, hospitalisations and ultimately deaths from this virus that countries succeed. We can continue to do that here in Northern Ireland by encouraging people to take up the vaccine."