Thursday, 27 May 2021
Covid-19 Vaccine Roll-out: Statements
I thank the Deputy for his ongoing advocacy for global justice and global fair distribution, with which I fully agree. There are various mechanisms by which Ireland can help. Ireland must help and we must do everything that we can. As was pointed out earlier, we have advance purchased a significant amount of vaccine doses, more than we would need. We can see with some of the supply issues why we and other European member states did so.
At the moment we are working on how we can be of as much use as possible. There are various ways we can do that. As the Deputy said, one is with cash. We are contributing, and have contributed, money via the EU to COVAX and the Gavi initiative. As the Deputy rightly pointed out, we can also contribute vaccine doses because we have advance purchased millions of doses of vaccines, which will still be there after we have fully vaccinated our entire population. As a Deputy pointed out earlier, we will take advice on whether we need to retain some of these for booster vaccinations and so forth, but we have also signed up to 2022 and 2023 beginning with an advance purchase agreement on Pfizer. It is our intention to broaden that basket out to different companies, supply chains and technology platforms.
We are in very positive discussions with the European Commission right now, literally this week and through into next week, on how Europe can contribute in a meaningful way to global vaccination. The preferred method is through Gavi. The Deputy will agree this is probably the best way, certainly one of the best ways, that Ireland and Europe can contribute to make sure there is an expert group with no political or state affiliations that can direct these vaccines to where they can be of most use.