Thursday, 18 February 2021
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade
143. To ask the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if Ireland will take on the issue of global access to Covid-19 vaccines and treatments given that the United Nations Security Council will soon debate it; if Ireland is actively supporting the tabling of such a motion; if Ireland will support the implementation of the WHO global technology access pool as part of its contribution to that debate; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9268/21]
While the World Health Organisation is leading the multilateral system response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the UN Security Council has a role to play in addressing the potential threats to international peace and security arising from the pandemic. This is recognised in Security Council Resolution 2532 adopted last July. The Minister for Foreign Affairs participated in a meeting of the Security Council on Covid-19 on 17 February.
The Security Council debate does raise issues better addressed within the competency of other parts of the UN system. WHO is the lead on global health and the Covid-19 response, and in recognition of this, the Government quadrupled funding to the World Health Organisation (WHO) in 2020.
Vaccine supply constraints remain an issue, particularly for low-income countries. These countries also need support in other aspects of Covid-19 response such as access to PPE, as well as strengthening of their health systems to respond to this and other disease threats. In response , the Irish Aid allocation to global health will increase to at least €50 million in 2021, at least 9% of my Department's budget for Official Development Assistance. This funding will include a contribution to the vaccine response as well as funding of long-standing global health partners.
Ireland has welcomed the COVID-19 Technology Access Pool (C-TAP). The Government shares the objectives for the initiative to achieve a common outcome in public health for the benefit of all. The C-TAP proposal touches on the work of a number of Government Departments and other stakeholders. My Department is consulting with relevant stakeholders with a view to considering practical engagement.
Ireland is fully supportive of efforts by the international community, including as an EU Member State, to ensure fair and equitable access to vaccines for all.