Wednesday, 3 March 2021

Questions (360)

Thomas Pringle

Question:

360. Deputy Thomas Pringle asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs if Ireland will be participating in the World Health Organisation co-led COVAX scheme; if not, the reason; if so, the number of vaccines Ireland is committing to; the EU countries that are participating in the scheme; the way Ireland compares to them; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11339/21]

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Written answers (Question to Foreign)

Ireland is providing full support to the international community, including as an EU Member State, to ensure fair and equitable access to vaccines for all. In 2020, Irish funding to the World Health Organisation (WHO) quadrupled in recognition of its role as lead UN agency for health and co-host of the Access to Covid-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator, which has the COVAX facility as a centrepiece.

COVAX is supporting 92 low and middle-income countries access Covid-19 vaccines. The first COVAX vaccine shipment to sub-Saharan Africa was dispatched last week and all countries now have their delivery schedule. The most effective way to support COVAX at present is to provide financial support, to enable them to procure vaccines at the best price for developing countries.

At least €50 million in Irish Aid funding will be invested in global public health this year, to help strengthen health systems in developing countries so that they can cope with the strains of COVID, be ready to roll out vaccines and also continue their regular health work. This investment includes €5 million specifically for global vaccine response: €4 million of this is channelled through COVAX, the global mechanism for ensuring fair access to therapeutics, diagnostics and vaccines and €1 million through the World Health Organisation to support their oversight of the mechanism, ensuring fairness and transparency.

All EU Member States are supporting COVAX. The EU announced last week that it would double its funding for the initiative from €500 million to €1 billion, to which Ireland makes a pro rata contribution. When taken with the commitments of individual Member States, this brings the entire EU pledge to COVAX to €2.2 billion.