The UK should share any spare coronavirus vaccinations with Ireland, the Sinn Fein president has said.
Mary Lou McDonald said a spirit of “generosity and solidarity” on vaccine sharing should extend globally.
She was asked on Sky News if she would like to see excess UK doses being diverted to the Irish Republic, given the slower pace of vaccine rollout in the EU.
“Certainly if there is an excess of supply in Britain and if there is a capacity for that to be shared with Ireland at some point, well, yes, of course, absolutely, the project here is to get people vaccinated,” she replied.
“This is a race against this virus and against death so, yes, I think a spirit of fairness and generosity needs to prevail in this, my goodness, above all other issues.
“So, yes, is the answer, and if the scenario were vice versa I would expect that a similar generosity would be afforded to the British people because the virus doesn’t care about politics or borders or any of these things.”
“We all share the same human biology and it’s just so important that the incredible work that has been done by scientists internationally, including at Oxford University, and across the globe, that the fruits of that endeavour and knowledge and expertise is shared in the way that good science would intend, and that means keeping all of our fellow human citizens safe and alive and well.”
The first batch of Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccines arrived in Ireland on Saturday.
The 21,600 jabs, which were transported from Belgium, will be given to healthcare workers from Monday.
Ireland is using the two other approved vaccines, from Pfizer and Moderna, to vaccinate the over-70s.
Most over-70s will be able to get jabs at their GP surgery.
The GP practice rollout begins on Monday week, with the over-85 age group being prioritised.
A further 55 Covid-19-related deaths were confirmed on Saturday, along with another 827 new confirmed cases of the virus.
As of 2pm on Saturday, 1,177 patients with Covid-19 were being treated in hospital, 177 of whom were in ICU.