I propose to take Questions Nos. 6, 33, 37, 52, 58 and 59 together. I thank Deputy Connolly and her colleagues for tabling them.
As we have outlined previously to both Houses, universal and equitable access to safe, effective and affordable vaccines, diagnostics and treatments is crucial in the global fight against Covid-19. This is at the heart of the Irish Government's international response to the pandemic, and governments in the developed world must do more to ensure this happens. As a member of the EU, we have been fully engaged in the overall EU response concerning the TRIPS waiver. The EU believes that there is no single solution, that a multipronged approach is needed and that discussions should concentrate on how the intellectual property system can contribute towards increasing the manufacturing capacity and equitable access to vaccines around the world.
Since last autumn, the EU has participated in the informal discussions on the intellectual property element of the WTO response to the Covid-19 pandemic with representatives of South Africa, India, and the US, known as the Quad group. These discussions have been detailed and protracted, and a potential compromise proposal has now emerged that offers the most promising path toward achieving a meaningful outcome.
The EU believes that the compromise proposal addresses the concerns of South Africa and developing countries regarding the possibility of authorising the manufacturers to produce Covid-19 vaccines without the consent of patent owners. It also streamlines procedures to facilitate faster production of vaccines, while at the same time maintaining a functioning intellectual property framework necessary for the development of new vaccines and medicines.
Since we last engaged on this matter, the proposal has been presented to the full WTO membership for consideration, and agreement will require the consensus of all WTO members. Ireland will continue to engage constructively with the European Commission and other EU member states on the EU position on the compromise proposal in order to reach an agreement as soon as possible.
Global production of Covid-19 vaccines has substantially increased, with production expected to reach 18 billion to 19 billion by mid-2022. This means that, by the middle of this year, we will have a sufficient number of vaccines for everybody in the world, including for booster campaigns. Vaccine supply currently exceeds demand.
As vaccine production is no longer the main issue of concern, the international community is now focused on the need to rapidly build capacity in low-income countries for health care workers, cold-chain logistics and information sharing so that demand for vaccines will increase in line with supply and vaccines can be safely administered on the scale needed to meet the WHO's vaccination target of 70%.
The EU is committed to the equitable distribution of COVID-19 vaccines, with a focus on supporting Africa, where vaccination rates are lower than in other parts of the world. The EU has led the way in global solidarity as the world's largest exporter of Covid-19 vaccines, with over 2.1 billion finished doses exported to 166 countries by March 2022 and over €4 billion committed in financial support to COVAX from all the EU members. The Government has to date committed to the donation of €13.5 million and 5 million vaccines to the COVAX facility. Vaccines have already been delivered to countries including Uganda, Nigeria, Indonesia, Ghana and Burkina Faso, with further deliveries expected to follow shortly.