The Government has said it is “not aware” of any plans that the British to share almost 4 million vaccines with Ireland, following reports on Sunday.
A Government spokesperson said it and the UK government “maintain close contact across all matters of common interest”, but is not aware of a specific UK plan to share vaccines with Ireland.
A spokesperson said: “The UK has previously indicated that once it has achieved a high level of vaccination of its own population, it would consider sharing vaccines with other countries.
“We are not aware of any specific plans to share vaccines with Ireland at this stage. The Irish and UK governments maintain close contact across all matters of common interest.”
Speaking on Sunday morning, the UK’s Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said Britain does not “currently have a surplus” of coronavirus vaccines.
“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,” he said.
The UK is reportedly planning to offer approximately 3.7m doses of Covid-19 vaccines to Ireland, according to a report in The Sunday Times.
It would be the first time the British government has exported vaccines to a European Union member state.
The offer would be made in part to help ease Covid-19 restrictions in Northern Ireland.
Northern Ireland first minister Arlene Foster has also expressed support for such a move.
Ms Foster recommended that British prime minister Boris Johnson give the jabs to Ireland during his visit to Enniskillen this month.
First Minister Arlene Foster receiving her first Covid vaccination in Fermanagh on Friday. Kelvin Boyes/Press Eye/PA Wire
It is understood that Ms Foster believes differing vaccination rollout speeds and different infection rates on either side of the border risk complicating both countries’ routes out of the pandemic.
The DUP leader said she hasn’t yet spoken to Taoiseach Micheál Martin about the proposal.
Calls for UK to send surplus vaccines abroad
Over the past week, Boris Johnson has been facing calls to begin donating vaccines to other nations or risk hoarding supplies while frontline workers are exposed to coronavirus.
On Sunday, health and development charities in the UK urged Mr Johnson to take “accelerated action” and “swiftly clarify” how doses will be shared.
Save the Children UK and Wellcome, an organisation led by the UK’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies member, Jeremy Farrar, were among those making the demand in a letter to Mr Johnson.
With more than half of adults having received a jab, they say the UK is “one of the world’s highest per-capita buyers” of vaccines and is on track to have more than 100m surplus doses.
UK prime minister Boris Johnson has faced calls to send surplus vaccines abroad. File picture: Aaron Chown/PA
“There is, therefore, the high risk that the UK will be hoarding limited supply whilst health workers and the most vulnerable in low and middle-income countries do not have access,” the letter reads.
The UK will be sitting on enough surplus vaccine doses to vaccinate the world’s frontline health workers twice over.
They are urging Britain to immediately begin donating doses through the Covax initiative, which is working to provide vaccines for low and middle-income countries.
The British government responded that it will share “the majority of any future surplus” vaccines with the Covax pool “when these are available”.