Dundalk TD Ruairí Ó Murchú is to ask for ‘vaccine hunter’, EU Commissioner Thierry Breton, to be invited before the Dáil’s EU Affairs Committee.
The Sinn Féin TD is to make the suggestion after statements in the Dáil last week ahead of the EU Council meeting.
Deputy Ó Murchú spoke about vaccines before the controversy around the Beacon Hospital, which he said had ‘knocked confidence in the State’s vaccine roll-out by its disgraceful actions’.
Vaccines were high on the agenda for the speakers during the pre EU Council meeting debate, including Deputy Ó Murchú who pointed out the imbalance between the number of vaccines going out of the EU, versus the number coming in.
He also accused pharma company AstraZeneca of ‘fly-boy capitalism’.
He said: ‘We are all worried about any chance of legal action with regard to the supply of vaccines or vaccine ingredients.
'We all recognise that, as Dr. Ursula von der Leyen has stated, mistakes were made with regard to vaccine procurement.
‘We are all aware that 77 million doses have made their way out of the European Union, while nothing has come back in.
'We know there is a specific difficulty in respect of AstraZeneca.
‘It is fair to say the company has engaged in fly-boy capitalism and needs to be called out and brought to account.
‘The fact is we need a solution to this issue and we do not need a legal trade war with unintended consequences.
‘I welcome the fact that there will be an opportunity to engage with the European Commission and possibly with US President Biden on the wider issue of vaccine supply.
‘A conversation is needed with the European Commission to the effect that the Government has a part to play in a wider conversation with the pharmaceutical industry to see what capacity there is on a worldwide basis to up the production of vaccines. Everything has to be on the table, including intellectual property rights.
'I accept there is a cost factor to this, particularly for the so-called developed world.
'We are hearing figures from €25 billion to €40 billion to vaccinate the developed world and that this will be a cost that will largely need to be borne by the developed world.
'That is the cost of doing business.
'There are other figures out there for what it would cost if not everybody throughout the world was vaccinated, between one to nine trillion dollars. The difficulty is that we need to ensure we miss nothing in capacity.’
In response to Deputy Ó Murchú, Minister of State Thomas Byrne said: ‘To answer the question Deputy Ó Murchú put by looking at everything and making sure every last facility is used to produce vaccines, we can safely say that vaccine supply is going to ramp up massively in quarter two, which begins next week.
'Professor Brian MacCraith is on the public record as saying that a huge delivery will come in next Wednesday’.