Houses of the Oireachtas

All parliamentary debates are now being published on our new website. The publication of debates on this website will cease in December 2018.

Go to oireachtas.ie

Covid-19 Vaccine Roll-out: Statements (Continued)

Thursday, 27 May 2021

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 1007 No. 7
Unrevised

First Page Previous Page Page of 69 Next Page Last Page

  10 o’clock

(Speaker Continuing)

[Deputy Gino Kenny: Information on Gino Kenny Zoom on Gino Kenny] The combined wealth of those five individuals would vaccinate 800 million people. There is a disparity and inequality between the vaccine roll-outs throughout the world.

The Government recently gave allocations of money to the Covid-19 Vaccines Global Access programme, COVAX. Can that be reviewed to give substantially more money? If we have access to vaccines in future can we give them to the programme? Would the Government consider putting a special solidarity tax on the profits of some of the companies that have greatly benefited from the Covid vaccine and are based in Ireland?

Deputy Stephen Donnelly: Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly I thank the Deputy for his ongoing advocacy for global justice and global fair distribution, with which I fully agree. There are various mechanisms by which Ireland can help. Ireland must help and we must do everything that we can. As was pointed out earlier, we have advance purchased a significant amount of vaccine doses, more than we would need. We can see with some of the supply issues why we and other European member states did so.

At the moment we are working on how we can be of as much use as possible. There are various ways we can do that. As the Deputy said, one is with cash. We are contributing, and have contributed, money via the EU to COVAX and the Gavi initiative. As the Deputy rightly pointed out, we can also contribute vaccine doses because we have advance purchased millions of doses of vaccines, which will still be there after we have fully vaccinated our entire population. As a Deputy pointed out earlier, we will take advice on whether we need to retain some of these for booster vaccinations and so forth, but we have also signed up to 2022 and 2023 beginning with an advance purchase agreement on Pfizer. It is our intention to broaden that basket out to different companies, supply chains and technology platforms.

We are in very positive discussions with the European Commission right now, literally this week and through into next week, on how Europe can contribute in a meaningful way to global vaccination. The preferred method is through Gavi. The Deputy will agree this is probably the best way, certainly one of the best ways, that Ireland and Europe can contribute to make sure there is an expert group with no political or state affiliations that can direct these vaccines to where they can be of most use.

Deputy Kieran O'Donnell: Information on Kieran O'Donnell Zoom on Kieran O'Donnell I propose to use the time for questions and answers. I will deal with the unfolding situation in Limerick regarding Covid cases. I note the phenomenal work done on the roll-out at the Radisson vaccination centre. I welcome the shuttle bus running from the city centre will be transferred when the centre moves to Limerick Racecourse in Patrickswell.

We have seen a rise in Covid cases in Limerick. There have been nearly 260 cases in the last ten days, peaking at 59 cases on Tuesday. We have also seen the cyberattack. I welcome the new testing centres in St. Joseph's Hospital on Mulgrave Street and the Ballysimon Road, but I ask the Minister to update us on where we are with the numbers of Covid cases. Is the matter being brought under control? Where are we at regarding the number of tests and cases in intensive care units, ICU, in hospitals? Where does the Minister see that progressing in bringing it under control over the next number of days? In the context of the whole cyberattack, where does he see the situation developing in terms of getting back to normality with appointments for patients in all the hospitals in Limerick?

Deputy Stephen Donnelly: Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly I thank the Deputy for his questions and his acknowledgement of the shuttle bus. The Deputy raised this issue. He and I discussed it with the Minister of State at the Department of Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science, Deputy Niall Collins, Deputy Willie O'Dea and various people. I committed to Deputy O'Donnell that we would do it if it could be done. I thank him for acknowledging that and I hope it is of use.

I am sure the Deputy had a smile on his face when he saw that the Limerick vaccination centre, which he pointed out was not in fact geographically in the county of Limerick, will now be there. I am sure the Deputy is much relieved that has happened.

Deputy Kieran O'Donnell: Information on Kieran O'Donnell Zoom on Kieran O'Donnell We welcome that.

Deputy Stephen Donnelly: Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly I am sure it is a great relief. Regarding the cases, we had a serious situation. From the public health reports I received a combination of things were happening, including end-of-term parties, indoor family events and various other things. We also had reports of people who had been infected going into workplaces when they possibly did not need to be there and thereby becoming vectors of transmission. Essentially, what appears to have happened, and this is the public health view on the ground, is that a significant number of quite diverse indoor activities led to this, which are currently not provided for in the public health measures and, in other words, should not have happened. Public health is very active on the ground. I have spoken to Deputy O'Donnell, Minister of State, Deputy Niall Collins, and the other Deputies in the area. We are looking to see if pop-up PCR testing and other measures would be useful.

Deputy Kieran O'Donnell: Information on Kieran O'Donnell Zoom on Kieran O'Donnell On a point of order, are the cases being brought under control?

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Catherine Connolly Zoom on Catherine Connolly There is not a point of order. We are in the middle of questions. There are two and a half minutes left for Deputy James O'Connor, which we are eating into.

Deputy Stephen Donnelly: Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly I will get the Deputy the data.

Deputy James O'Connor: Information on James O'Connor Zoom on James O'Connor On a point of order, Deputy Ó Cathasaigh is not here so can I perhaps use-----

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Catherine Connolly Zoom on Catherine Connolly There is not a point of order. The Deputy has two and half minutes. Deputy Ó Cathasaigh is sitting in front of us. The time is being used up and the Deputy now has less time.

Deputy James O'Connor: Information on James O'Connor Zoom on James O'Connor It has to be stated in the House that the vaccination roll-out has been an enormous success in recent times. I am delighted to see the progress that has been made with the HSE and other partners that are working on it. I fully commend the officials working on the vaccination roll-out. I am very glad to see there are plans to ramp up weekly vaccinations to more than 400,000 per week in the very near future.

I will make a point to the Minister and the Ministers of State at the Department of Health, Deputies Anne Rabbitte and Mary Butler, who are with him today in the Chamber, around the vaccination bonuses that may come in the next number of weeks. The Cabinet will meet later in the week to make many important decisions on how we move into the next phase, perhaps the final phase before a full reopening of society, to get back to some degree of the normality we enjoyed up until the start of 2020.

I encourage Government to be very proactive in how they will implement such measures. As we know, in June we will definitely reach the tipping point in the level of the population that will be inoculated against the Covid-19 virus after receiving their first jab, which is very exciting and I am delighted to be able to say it. It is expected that more than 80% of the Irish adult population will have received their first dose by the end of June, which will make a remarkable difference to the level of hospitalisations and to those who have developed severe illnesses from Covid-19. It will, hopefully, help to reduce drastically the level of transmission as well.

I have a very simple question for the Minister about the vaccination bonus. Does he plan at any stage over the next month or two to alter that, when we arrive at a situation where we have met the targets that have been supplied, which is in excess of 80% being vaccinated?

Deputy Marc Ó Cathasaigh: Information on Marc Ó Cathasaigh Zoom on Marc Ó Cathasaigh I will have to make myself more evident to Deputy O'Connor in future. I praise the success of the vaccine roll-out. The figure of 50% by the end of the week is very exciting. There were people who said that the Irish system was not going to be able to roll it out in this time. It is right to praise everybody working within that system, including Department officials, HSE staff, GPs, doctors and vaccination centre staff.


Last Updated: 04/06/2021 14:57:20 First Page Previous Page Page of 69 Next Page Last Page