Monday, 29 March 2021
Covid-19 Vaccination Programme: Statements
Paddy Burke (Fine Gael)
I welcome the Minister to the House and wish him well with his portfolio. I sympathise with him on having the most difficult job in this country at this point in time, with everybody watching what he is doing. It will be very difficult, in the two minutes I have, to say a great deal on this matter. I will not go back over the issues raised by the many other Senators but I welcome the return of visits to nursing homes. That is very welcome. Allowing it again is a great initiative, vaccination having been carried out in most nursing homes.
There are many large pharmaceutical companies in the country. Have any plans been made that would allow these companies, which may have spare capacity because there has been no flu this year, to produces vaccines? I have no doubt that there will be a need for booster vaccines in the coming years. What is our plan in that regard? An audit should be carried out in respect of the production of vaccines in this country. This may involve the Minister's Department and the Departments of Finance and of Enterprise, Trade and Employment and would aim to determine how to bring about a situation in which we could produce our own vaccines.
I am aware that there is a proposal before Government in respect of the production of vaccines in Ireland. This would create jobs and would come at no cost to the taxpayer. The Taoiseach is aware of the proposal. Some very high-powered people, at the very highest level in the world, are involved. I hope that the Minister will pursue this as it would allow vaccines to be produced in this country for next year and would give us the safeguard of having our own vaccines here. I would welcome it if the Minister could see what he can do in that regard.