– Tardy delivery of Pfizer BioNTech vaccine and tardy approval of Moderna
and Oxford Astrazenca vaccines incredibly frustrating for citizens –

Fianna Fáil MEP, Billy Kelleher has this morning called for an urgent review of the European Commission’s Vaccine Purchase and Rollout programme saying, “it is clear that it’s not working as efficiently as it should be and that citizens are getting frustrated seeing non-EU countries power ahead with their own vaccine rollout.”

Kelleher, a member of the Parliament’s Public Health Committee added, “The purpose of Member States agreeing to co-ordinate their vaccine purchase and rollout through the Commission was to secure both price and rollout efficiencies.

“What is now obvious is that only a price efficiency has been secured. In normal times, this may have sufficed. However, in the midst of a worsening pandemic, it’s simply not acceptable.

“The cost of not vaccinating the population quickly enough, and thereby not opening up society and the economy quickly enough, is considerably greater than the savings made on bulk purchasing through the Commission.

“Citizens across the Union are seeing non-member states accessing the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine much quicker than they are. We are seeing delays in deliveries, yet no response from the Commission to rectify this. I am very concerned that the pharma companies have taken the Commission for granted.

“Furthermore, I am concerned by the bureaucratic delays in authorising of the use of the Moderna and Oxford-Astrazeneca vaccines. As WHO Emergencies Director, Mike Ryan said last spring, “Perfection is the enemy of good in emergencies.”

“The European Medicines Agency should not be placing greater bureaucratic red tape on vaccine producers than other countries. Of course, they must be confident in the efficacy and safety of vaccines, but I do not believe we need to reinvent the wheel.

“The HSE and the Department of Health can only vaccinate the people of Ireland if they have enough vaccines. I am urging Minister Donnelly and the Taoiseach to raise these concerns at EU Council and Commission level. The people of Ireland, and indeed Europe, will not accept any unnecessary delays or failure when it comes to getting their vaccines, and neither should our government,” concluded Kelleher.