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UK ‘to donate 3,700,000 spare Covid vaccines to Ireland’

The Government does not want slower vaccine rollouts in Ireland to affect the UK through Ireland’s open border with Northern Ireland (Picture: Getty Images)

Britain is looking at sending millions of coronavirus vaccines to Ireland, reports suggest. 

The Republic of Ireland has been inoculating its population under the EU’s vaccine scheme, but the continent is lagging behind the UK’s rapid rollout. 

But a cabinet source has said the Government wants to give 3.7 million doses to Ireland, possibly starting as early as Easter, according to The Sunday Times 

The move is thought to be favoured by the UK due to the open border between the two countries means immunising the Republic’s population is likely to reduce the spread of Covid-19 in Northern Ireland.

But while donating jabs could reduce the risk, the minister also described the move as a ‘poke in the eye for Brussels’ because it could disrupt EU unity.

‘Everyone can see the logic of it. It’s good politics while at the same time solving a genuine public health concern in Northern Ireland,’ the source added. 

There have been other reports suggesting that the UK is looking at donating surplus doses to Europe countries where it fears that inefficient rollouts could boost support for politicians the Government do not favour.

A healthcare professional prepares a dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine. The UK is looking at donating surplus vaccines to Ireland.

The UK’s vaccination programme has been soaring ahead of the EU’s inoculation scheme (Picture: Getty Images)
Post-Brexit Britain donating jabs to Ireland would be a ‘poke in the eye for Brussels’, sources say (Pictured: European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen)(Picture: Getty Images)

A Whitehall source told The Times: ‘The fear is that Macron has made such a mess of things that it might mean we end up with Marine Le Pen getting elected. No one wants that.’

Marine Le Pen is the president of Mr Macron’s far-right opposition party The National Rally. 

But culture secretary Oliver Dowden today said that the Government’s priority is to make sure all Britons are fully vaccinated before donating any surplus.

He said: ‘Clearly, our first priority is ensuring we deliver vaccines in the United Kingdom.

‘We clearly don’t currently have a surplus of vaccines, should we get to the point where we have a surplus of vaccines we’d make decisions on the allocation of that surplus.’

It comes as the UK prepares to enjoy new freedoms from tomorrow when people will be allowed to mix in parks and gardens in groups of six or amongst two households. 

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: ‘As things stand, I can see absolutely nothing in the data to dissuade me from continuing along our roadmap to freedom, unlocking our economy and getting back to the life we love.’

Get in touch with our news team by emailing us at webnews@metro.co.uk. 

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