09/15/2021 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 09/15/2021 06:15
The Minister for Health, Stephen Donnelly and the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Simon Coveney TD, have announced that Ireland will donate at least one million COVID-19 vaccines to COVAX.
COVAX, co-led by the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), Gavi and the World Health Organisation (WHO), aims to accelerate the development and manufacture of COVID-19 vaccines, and to guarantee fair and equitable access for every country in the world.
Minister Donnelly said:
'Universal and fair access to COVID-19 vaccines and treatments is a priority for Ireland and for the European Union. As the current phase of Ireland's vaccination programme nears completion, it is important for Ireland to demonstrate solidarity with developing countries during this global pandemic. I am very pleased therefore to announce that Ireland will contribute 1 million Covid-19 vaccines to the COVAX global vaccine initiative.
'This donation represents the first step in Irelands commitment to COVAX and vaccine donation, with other possibilities for vaccine sharing to help those most in need likely to arise later in the year.'
Minister for Foreign Affairs and Defence Simon Coveney said:
'I am delighted that the Government has made this decision to share surplus vaccines. It is a mark of Ireland's solidarity with developing countries during this truly global crisis. To keep ourselves safe, we must ensure everyone is protected from COVID-19. This virus does not respect international borders, as we have learned'.
Minister of State for Overseas Aid and the Diaspora Colm Brophy added:
'To ensure that the vaccination rollouts in recipient countries are well-managed and well-resourced, my Department has also allocated an additional €3 million to COVAX before the end of the year. This brings Ireland's total contribution to COVAX to €7 million in 2021, part of Ireland's contribution to Global Health of over €100 million'.
Universal and fair access to COVID-19 vaccines and treatments is a priority for Ireland and for the European Union. Vaccine sharing is epidemiologically important. The WHO has said that, on a global basis, 'no one will be safe from COVID-19 until everyone is safe'.
It is proposed that Ireland's donation of COVID-19 vaccines will take place through the COVAX mechanism using a direct tripartite agreement between donor/seller, manufacturer, and beneficiary.
WHAT IS COVAX? (Extract from Covax website www.gavi.org )
COVAX is one of three pillars of the Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator, which was launched in April by the World Health Organization (WHO), the European Commission and France in response to this pandemic. Bringing together governments, global health organisations, manufacturers, scientists, private sector, civil society and philanthropy, with the aim of providing innovative and equitable access to COVID-19 diagnostics, treatments and vaccines. The COVAX pillar is focussed on the latter. It is the only truly global solution to this pandemic because it is the only effort to ensure that people in all corners of the world will get access to COVID-19 vaccines once they are available, regardless of their wealth.
Coordinated by Gavi - the Vaccine Alliance, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) and the WHO, COVAX will achieve this by acting as a platform that will support the research, development and manufacturing of a wide range of COVID-19 vaccine candidates, and negotiate their pricing. All participating countries, regardless of income levels, will have equal access to these vaccines once they are developed. The initial aim is to have 2 billion doses available by the end of 2021, which should be enough to protect high risk and vulnerable people, as well as frontline healthcare workers.
For lower-income funded nations, who would otherwise be unable to afford these vaccines, as well as a number of higher-income self-financing countries that have no bilateral deals with manufacturers, COVAX is quite literally a lifeline and the only viable way in which their citizens will get access to COVID-19 vaccines. For the wealthiest self-financing countries, some of which may also be negotiating bilateral deals with vaccine manufacturers, it serves as an invaluable insurance policy to protect their citizens, both directly and indirectly. On the one hand it will provide direct protection by increasing their chances of securing vaccine doses. Yet, at the same time by procuring COVID-19 vaccines through COVAX, these nations will also indirectly protect their citizens by reducing the chances of resurgence by ensuring that the rest of the world gets access to doses too.