The Government has said that its vaccination schedule is not affected by shortfalls in the supply of doses from AstraZeneca.

Speaking this evening, the Taoiseach said that limited supply of the vaccines were factored into the plans for vaccinations in the second quarter of the year.

Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly said on social media that there was "no change" to Government plans arising from concerns over the supply from AstraZeneca.

"I'm glad to be able to assure everyone that there is no change to our forecast of 1 million Covid-19 vaccine doses a month from April on for Ireland.

"Shortfalls in AstraZeneca supply for Quarter Two were already factored in by our Vaccine Taskforce and our programme continues as planned", Stephen Donnelly tweeted earlier.

AstraZeneca also confirmed that it aims to deliver the number of vaccines in line with its contract with the European Commission.

A spokesperson for the Company, said: "AstraZeneca confirms today that its most recent Q2 forecast for the delivery of its COVID-19 vaccine aims to deliver in line with its contract with the European Commission. 

"As per this contract, approximately half of the expected volume is due to come from the EU supply chain, while the remainder would come from its international supply network. At this stage AstraZeneca is working to increase productivity in its EU supply chain and to continue to make use of its global capability in order to achieve delivery of 180 million doses to the EU in the second quarter."

Responding to earlier reports from the news agency Reuters that AstraZeneca would be further reducing its supply of doses to the EU in the second quarter of this year, a European Commission spokesperson said the EU expects improvements in the supply of vaccine doses from AstraZeneca as discussions continue between the EU and the pharmaceutical company.

The commission spokesperson said: "Discussions on the AstraZeneca delivery schedule are ongoing. The company is refining its schedule and consolidating it on the basis of all available production sites in and outside Europe. The commission expects to be provided with an improved schedule proposal."

Quoting an EU official, who Reuters said "is directly involved" in discussions with AstraZeneca, the report said that AstraZeneca was now committing to only 40 million doses in the second quarter of the year, down from 180 million, which was agreed in the contract between the company and the European Commission.

An EU source who spoke to RTÉ strongly questioned some of the figures attributed to the official in the Reuters report.

Reporting Tony Connelly and Colm Ó Mongáin