News & Media

Urgent EU Summit on vaccines needed

12 March 2021

Statement by Alan Kelly TD
Party Leader and Spokesperson on Health and Disability Services
  • Need to guarantee current supply is protected
  • Must ensure contracts are honoured
  • Plan to increase manufacturing in Europe required

Labour leader Alan Kelly has called on the Government to demand an EU Summit to deal with the failure in the rollout of vaccines across the European Union. Speaking in the Dáil yesterday, Deputy Kelly said people deserve to understand what the Government are doing to tackle the shortfall in vaccines. As the Government continues to rely solely on vaccination to emerge from Level 5 lockdown, Deputy Kelly urged the Government to call for an EU Summit to deal with the vaccine shortfall.

Deputy Kelly said:

“I am a proud European and as a former MEP I know and understand the value of EU block’s purchasing power for vaccines. However, this situation has been badly handled by our European colleagues and Irish people deserve answers and timelines from Europe. People are sick with envy looking across the water to our nearest neighbours where AstraZeneca have honoured contracts.

“Many will also be shocked by reports in the New York Times this morning that America is holding supplies of the AstraZeneca vaccine, which is yet to be approved, while Europe is scrambling for resources. We need our EU representatives to do more than “talk strongly” to pharma companies. We need someone who will hold their feet to the fire to understand why this unreliable delivery is occurring.

“I’m concerned that our colleagues in Europe are not aware of the level of frustration and anxiety faced by ordinary people waiting on communication from the EU and Member State governments on the vaccine. The time for intervention is now. The Government must demand an EU Summit to tackle the shortfall in the vaccine delivery across all Member States.

“The way the EU is dealing with vaccines needs to be recalibrated. It needs to be more ambitious and more clinical. We need to urgently do three things: we need to ensure that we protect current supply in the EU as much as possible, we need to make sure that contracts are honoured, and finally, we need a plan to increase manufacturing of the vaccine here in Europe.

“Hope is on the horizon with news that another vaccine, Johnson & Johnson, has been approved. The EU can’t afford to let what’s happening with AstraZeneca happen again. We need the Government to act now to protect European citizens. An EU Summit is the only way.”