Wednesday, 24 March 2021

Questions (146, 149)

Sorca Clarke

Question:

146. Deputy Sorca Clarke asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the feasibility studies and engagement that has been carried out to date on the potential to manufacture Covid-19 vaccines in Ireland given the level of pharmaceutical companies and activities here; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14127/21]

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Gino Kenny

Question:

149. Deputy Gino Kenny asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the person or body negotiating with pharmaceutical companies on behalf of the IDA vis-à-vis the production of vaccine in the Irish pharmaceutical sector; the person or section with which the IDA is liaising in his Department; the proposition being put to the pharmaceutical companies; the companies that have been met; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14255/21]

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Written answers (Question to Enterprise)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 146 and 149 together.

It is well known that Ireland is internationally recognised as a centre of excellence in the pharmaceutical sector and in the broader life sciences sector. In recognition of the critical work of those Irish-based companies, last October I convened a series of short meetings with several of IDA Ireland’s biopharmaceutical client companies to hear about the crucial role they are playing in the public health response to the COVID-19 pandemic and particularly on the work being done in Ireland to assist in the global efforts to combat COVID-19.

However, it was clear from these meetings and IDA Ireland's ongoing mapping of the sector that there is currently no available capacity within these pharmaceutical plants to produce COVID-19 vaccines.

Separate to existing capacity, the COVID-19 Products Scheme was developed jointly by IDA Ireland and Enterprise Ireland under the European Commission Temporary Framework that allows additional aid to be granted by EU Member States to companies that are developing or producing medicinal products used in the fight against COVID-19.  

IDA Ireland and Enterprise Ireland are supporting a range of companies with product and process solutions of relevance to the ongoing global response to tackling Covid-19. This includes some projects in the area of vaccines as well as many other projects in areas such as PPE production, medical devices, sanitisers & sanitising equipment and diagnostic tests, all of which remain important responses to the Covid-19 challenge.

In the area of vaccine production, Enterprise Ireland has identified Irish companies that can offer solutions to the bottleneck of vaccine production, including those in the areas of germ-free eggs for vaccine manufacture and avian transgenics, software services underpinning vaccine manufacturing and related laboratory works etc. Enterprise Ireland is currently working with client companies in these areas to deliver on their proposals under the COVID-19 Products Scheme.