The EU is to receive 50 million more doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine in the next three months, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has said.

She said the EU is turning more heavily to BioNTech/Pfizer to make up for suspended Johnson & Johnson vaccine doses and for longer-term needs to fight the mutating coronavirus.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin tweeted that Ireland would receive an extra 545,000 doses, with delivery to begin this month.

The move will help to make up for the shortfall of the J&J jabs that were meant to start rolling out, Ms von der Leyen said in a televised statement.

The EU is also negotiating with BioNTech/Pfizer for 1.8 billion doses of a second-generation of its mRNA vaccine to combat variants, to be delivered in 2022 and 2023, she said.

“As we can see, with the announcement by Johnson & Johnson yesterday, there are still many factors that can disrupt the planned delivery schedules of vaccines,” she said.


Tugboats and dredgers are still working to free giant container ship the MV Ever Given which is blocking Egypt’s Suez Canal for a fourth day, forcing companies to re-route services from the vital shipping lane around Africa.

The MV Ever Given, which is longer than four football fields, has been wedged diagonally across the entire canal since Tuesday

The blockage has caused huge traffic jams for dozens of ships and major delays in the delivery of oil and other products. 

An official from Shoei Kisen Kaisha, the Japanese company that owns the ship, told AFP today that crews were working to refloat it. 


SINGAPORE — A critical shortage of containers is driving up shipping costs and delays for goods purchased from China.

The pandemic and uneven global economic recovery has led to this problem cropping up in Asia, although other parts of the world have also been hit. Industry watchers said desperate companies wait weeks for containers and pay premium rates to get them, causing shipping costs to skyrocket.

This affects everyone who needs to ship goods from China, but particularly e-commerce companies and consumers, who may bear the brunt of higher costs.

In December, spot freight rates were 264% higher for the Asia to North Europe route, compared with a year ago, according to Mirko Woitzik, risk intelligence solutions manager at supply chain risk firm Resilience360. For the route from Asia to the West Coast of the U.S., rates are up 145% year over year.

Compared with last March’s low prices, freight rates from China to the U.S. and Europe have surged 300%, Mark Yeager, chief executive officer of Redwood Logistics, told CNBC. He said spot rates are up to about $6,000 per container compared with the usual price of $1,200.

Even rates from the U.S. have gone up, though not quite as dramatically, according to Yeager.

“The reason for this is the Chinese are being so aggressive about trying to get empty containers back … that it’s hard to get a container for US exporters,” he wrote in an email to CNBC, adding that 3 out of 4 containers from the U.S. to Asia are “going back empty.”

In fact, the shortage in Asia has also led to a similar crisis in many European countries, such as Germany, Austria and Hungary, as shipping carriers redirect containers to the East as quickly as possible, said Woitzik.


Property prices across the country rose by 2.6% in the year to January, according to the latest figures from the Central Statistics Office. 

This was an increase on the 2.2% recorded in the year to December. 

Prices for properties in Dublin rose by 1.1%, to mark only the fourth time they have increased on an annual basis since July 2019. 

Meanwhile, the CSO said that residential property prices in the rest of the country rose by 4%.

In Dublin, the price of houses rose by 0.6% while apartments rose by 3%. Outside of Dublin, houses rose by 3.8% while apartments rose by 7.5%.  

Overall nationally, residential property prices have risen by 88% since their lowest point in 2013. Prices are 15.7% below their 2007 peak.  

The price of new dwellings, which is measured on a quarterly basis, was 2% higher in the final three months of 2020 compared to the same period in 2019. Existing dwellings were 0.2% higher. 

But the volume of houses sold is still down. There were 3,484 household purchases registered with Revenue in January, down 5.6% compared to January last year. 

It also marked a 30.2% reduction on the number of purchases registered in December. 


Taoiseach Micheál Martin has said Ireland is in line for an extra 46,500 vaccines before the end of March after the European Union announced 4 million additional doses of the BioNTech-Pfizer vaccine.

The European Commission said the additional doses of BioNTech-Pfizer vaccine are to be delivered this month for in order to tackle coronavirus hotspots and to facilitate free border movement, to be distributed on a pro rata basis. 

President of the Commission, Ursula von der Leye said: “To tackle aggressive variants of the virus and to improve the situation in hotspots, quick and decisive action is necessary. I’m happy to announce today an agreement with BioNTech-Pfizer, who will offer to Member States to make available a total of four million doses of vaccines before the end of March which will be supplied in addition to the planned dose deliveries.

“This will help Member States in their efforts to keep the spread of new variants under control. Through their targeted use where they are most needed, in particular in border regions, these doses will also help ensure or restore free movement of goods and people. These are key for the functioning of health systems and the Single Market.”


The number of patients with Covid-19 in hospitals has fallen below 400 for the first time this year. 

New figures from the Health Service Executive put the number at 392 last night. 

It marks a reduction of 26 patients on what was reported yesterday morning. 

The number of patients in intensive care is 101, a small reduction on the situation earlier yesterday. Daily hospital admissions have been reducing in recent weeks. 

Ireland is in the late stages of the third wave of Covid-19 and all key indicators are improving. 

The National Public Health Emergency Team has said that there is sustained and “perhaps even accelerated progress in suppressing transmission of Covid-19”. 

The Department of Health reported 437 new cases of Covid-19 yesterday, taking the total to 223,651. 

No further deaths were recorded, meaning the toll remains at 4,422. 


This week will see the first Covid-19 vaccinations among medically vulnerable people aged between 16 and 69 who are at a very high risk of severe disease and death.

This will be the fourth cohort on the prioritisation list to get vaccinated.

It is estimated there could be up to 160,000 people aged between 16 and 69 who are deemed to be at a high risk from Covid-19 because of serious illness.

The Health Service Executive said that the first 10,000 patients from this group will get their first dose of vaccine later this week, beginning with people with neurological conditions in disability settings.

Meanwhile, those aged over 85 who have yet to get their first dose, which is thought to be around 500 people, are due to get their jabs this week, along with other housebound patients.

A further 37,000 doses have been allocated for people aged 80-84 this week, from the overall target of more than 84,000 to be administered this week.

Meanwhile, the Health Products Regulatory Authority in Ireland has said it is closely monitoring an Austrian investigation into reports of adverse events following vaccinations from one batch of AstraZeneca vaccine. 

Austrian authorities are investigating the death of one person and illness in a second person after they received the vaccine.

As a precaution, Austria has suspended inoculations from a specific batch of the AstraZeneca vaccine. 

The HPRA said that at present there is “no evidence of a causal relationship” between the vaccine and the events.

Boost for UK Moving Industry
The British Government delivered some help to the moving industry in the United Kingdom yesterday with an announcement of an extension to the “holiday” for the tax duty payable when a home is sold.
The decision to suspend the stamp duty for properties under £500,000 in value until June 30, 2021 aims to encourage property purchases and should therefore impact the number of household goods moves.  At the higher end of the property market, the announcement could save potential moving customers as much as £15,000 (€17,350) when purchasing a home with a value of £500,000 or more.
Removals Company says “We are pleased to hear that Stamp Duty cut has been extended in today’s Budget until the 30th June for homes under £500,000.  Hopefully this will have continued to have a positive effect across the UK property market and reassure all those who have been caught up in the slow sales process over the last few months,” the message said.
The government also announced support for first time home buyers that should further support activity in the property market and therefore benefit the moving companies in all segments of the industry.


Primary and secondary schools in Galway are calling for enhanced cycling infrastructure in and around the city.

In a letter sent to members of Galway City Council, the principals of 28 schools say existing routes are dangerous and that immediate action is needed to remedy this.

The schools say they have been trying to encourage people to “cycle or walk where possible”, in line with public health advice.

But they contend that it is unsafe for children, parents or teachers to use bikes due to a lack of proper cycling infrastructure around schools.

The principals say immediate action is necessary and they have asked for a comprehensive plan to address their concerns.

The City Council was recently awarded €11.9 million under the National Transport Authority’s Active Sustainable Transport scheme.

Some of this funding has been earmarked for better routes around schools.


The Government has given its backing to a prospective bid by Ireland and the UK to host the 2030 FIFA World Cup.

A Government spokesperson said there is a commitment to support a prospective five association bid for the tournament.

The Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media will  now undertake feasibility work, together with its partners, to assess the viability of a bid.

“We look forward to further extensive engagement and collaboration as we seek to refine our hosting proposals in the coming months,” the spokesperson said.

The Government believes staging a FIFA World Cup would provide major benefits for all the nations involved.

“If a decision is made to bid for the event, we look forward to presenting our hosting proposals to FIFA and the wider global football community,” the spokesperson added.

Government Chief Whip and Minister for Sport Jack Chambers said he was delighted that the UK government has committed to support a prospective five association bid for the 2030 World Cup.

“My Department will continue feasibility work, together with partners, to assess the viability of a bid. We look forward to extensive engagement in the coming months,” he said.