Ireland is to receive enough vaccines to fully inoculate 70% of the adult population by mid-July, a European Commissioner has said.
Internal Market Commissioner Thierry Breton said the EU is on target to supply Ireland with almost six million doses of Covid-19 vaccines by July.
Commissioner Breton, who heads a European taskforce on the industrial scale-up of Covid-19 vaccines, said the rollout of vaccines will also depend on Ireland’s ability to organise mass vaccinations.
He told the Oireachtas Committee on European Union Affairs that by the end of the year, the EU will have an annual production capacity of over three billion doses.
He said that no country could produce the vaccines alone, adding that “solidarity” was the only way to avoid vaccine nationalism.
“I am confident that by mid-July, we will have produced enough doses to fully vaccinate 70% of the adult population which is something that is extremely important,” he added.
Around 1.3 million of doses were delivered to Ireland in the first quarter of the year.
Ireland is on track to receive more than four million doses over the coming months.
Commissioner Breton said this is set to increase to six million by mid-July.
“This includes some doses coming from Janssen, which is only a one-shot vaccine.
“It will depend on the ability of the countries to organise mass vaccinations in order to reach the 70% of adult population by mid-July.”
Fine Gael TD Neale Richmond said AstraZeneca’s delivery issues represented a “stark failure” of the company to meet its commitments to the EU.
“I welcome your statement earlier this week that future orders should look at the companies that have been successful, that have stood by their contracts,” the Dublin TD added.
“I think much credit must go to Pfizer BioNTech, the company that has done so much heavy lifting for all of us.
“What ramifications post-pandemic will there be for companies who failed, through questionable means, to meet contractual obligations to the citizens of the EU when it comes to vaccine delivery?”
The Commissioner said the EU has issued a letter to AstraZeneca to try to resolve its dispute over vaccine supplies, adding that it is in the hands of the legal department.
The Commissioner added that it was his goal to ensure the EU supplied enough vaccines “as soon as possible”.
He added that the company has 20 days to reply to the letter.
The committee also heard that digital green certificates, set to be introduced to help boost EU-wide travel, are not passports.
“It will have very simple information, it will be totally protected. GDPR is totally mandatory here and there is no risk that it will able to be used outside of that,” he added.
“Let’s say a member state requires that you have a green certificate and you get on a plane, it may be easier to have this (certificate) when boarding, but if you don’t, because it is not mandatory, the airline company may require a PCR test.
“It will be a quick tool, definitely not mandatory. It will be up to the member state what they want to do with it.
“It will be an extremely important tool to allow citizens to travel more freely and safely.”