A Limerick TD said he has been left “baffled” because the government has still not approached Russia about potentially making orders for its so-called “Sputnik V” Covid-19 vaccine.
Independent TD Richard O’Donoghue said his office had received correspondence from the Russian Embassy in Dublin, confirming on March 10th that Ireland had still not approached Russia about its vaccine.
“As of now, we have not been approached by the Irish authorities on the issue of the “Sputnik V”” vaccine,” a Russian Embassy spokeswoman stated in an email to Deputy O’Donoghue’s office on March 10th.
“Russia believes it is important that as many countries have as many vaccines could be produced – that is the only practical way to suppress coronavirus,” the spokeswoman said.
“We are not in a “race of the vaccines”, we are working for the benefit of all,” she said.
The Embassy spokeswoman added: “The European Medical Agency is currently reviewing the request for registration from the Russian producer of the vaccine. As soon as the vaccine is approved by EMA and in case of interest of the Irish authorities in getting supply of the vaccine, it is quite certain that such request will be dealt seriously and positively.”
When asked about it today, Deputy O’Donoghue said the situation “worries me”.
“We need to contact everyone that we have contacts with, to make sure we can get approved vaccines here as quickly as possible. The Taoiseach should speak to US President Joe Biden moreso because of his Irish roots, we need to use everything that is available to us.”
“I as a public representative have got to do my part as well and I will contact whatever contacts I have myself to say that we need help to make sure we can vaccinate our people and so we can return to normality, because we are so far behind some other countries.”
“We joined Europe to be a strength, so we would have strength and would be able to get things done and ensure our country is vibrant. At the moment Europe and our government are letting us down. Our government is sitting back and waiting for answers rather than going out and asking and getting help and knocking on every single door, no matter who it is.”
“We have industries that are closed down due to this pandemic and a lot of them will not reopen if this goes on much longer, there are industries across the broad majorly suffering.”
“I am going to write to the government again to find out why haven’t they contacted the Russians. We should not be waiting, we need to be banging on doors to get approved vaccines.”
The government has previously indicated it is prepared to use the Sputnik V vaccine if approved by EU regulators.
However, the Department of Health, did not specially respond when asked if the government had actually yet approached Russia.
A Department spokeswoman today replied: “While it is a matter for the individual Member State as regards whether it wishes to authorise a vaccine for emergency usage, doing so incurs significant risk on the Member State concerned and could contribute to vaccine hesitancy more generally”.
“Ireland supports the EU Procurement Process, the purpose of which is to secure safe and efficacious vaccines for EU citizens,” she said.
“The delivery of vaccines under APAs (Advance Purchase Agreement) that the Commission has negotiated on behalf of Member States are predicated upon a CMA (Conditional Marketing Authorisation) being obtained from the Commission (on the basis of a positive recommendation being awarded by the EMA).”
“The awarding of a CMA provides a high level of assurance that a vaccine has undergone rigorous testing and has met the requirements of the independent regulatory process as regards demonstrating its safety and efficacy.”
“The award of the CMA as a precondition for the delivery of vaccines also ensures that all Member States that have opted into APAs negotiated by the Commission receive vaccines at the same time (i.e. ensuring fair access to vaccines).”