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Taoiseach holds crunch talks CEOs of leading Covid-19 vaccine producers in bid to start manufacturing jabs here

Taoiseach holds crunch talks CEOs of leading Covid-19 vaccine producers in bid to start manufacturing jabs here

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TAOISEACH Micheal Martin today held crunch talks with the CEOs of two of the world’s leading Covid-19 vaccine producers in a bid to start manufacturing jabs in Ireland.

It comes as pressure mounts on the Taoiseach to use his St Patrick’s Day meeting with U.S. President Joe Biden to ask for help in securing vaccines for Ireland with reports claiming millions of AstraZeneca jabs are gathering dust in American warehouses.

Taoiseach holds crunch talks CEOs of leading Covid-19 vaccine producers in bid to start manufacturing jabs here
US President Joe Biden promised a return to normality
AFP or licensors
Taoiseach holds crunch talks CEOs of leading Covid-19 vaccine producers in bid to start manufacturing jabs here
Taoiseach Micheal Martin was in talks today
Taoiseach holds crunch talks CEOs of leading Covid-19 vaccine producers in bid to start manufacturing jabs here
Ireland’s vaccine rollout is being ramped up
AFP – Getty

The Taoiseach had meetings with Johnson & Johnson CEO Alex Gorskey and AstraZeneca boss Pascal Soriot in an attempt to help solve Europe’s vaccine woes.

Ireland’s vaccine roll out has been hamstrung by constant delivery changes by AstraZeneca with reports earlier this week suggesting J&J will have to delay their jabs to the EU as well.

Earlier this week, it was revealed that Ireland has made €100 million available in State aid to entice vaccine producers to use our country’s enormous pharmaceutical industry to help produce jabs.

Taoiseach Micheal Martin held a virtual meeting tonight with J&J boss Alex Gorskey where they discussed the manufacturing challenges facing the vaccine producer.

This was followed up by a meeting with AstraZeneca where the Taoiseach raised the delivery issues that have rocked Ireland’s roll out.

The Irish Sun understands the meeting with AstraZeneca was a lengthy and positive discussion during which the Taoiseach made clear Ireland’s frustrations and disappointment over delivery failures.

The company made positive commitments around future deliveries and the Taoiseach told the company Ireland is willing to help with the supply chain using our pharmaceutical industry.

Asked if he was trying to secure extra doses for Ireland, the Taoiseach told RTE: “No fundamentally what has been agreed in terms of supplying Ireland would be fulfilled within the contractual agreements within the European construct.

“The European Union are now aware that I am meeting and having these discussions. I said to J&J and indeed I said to Pfizer that Ireland stands ready, given our own pharmaceutical footprint here, to help in anyway we can to improve capacity and production of vaccines.”


A report in the New York Times revealed that more than 30 million doses of AstraZeneca are sitting on shelves in a factory in Ohio with tens of millions more doses at a facility in Maryland.

AstraZeneca has yet to even apply for emergency authorisation from the US drug regulator the FDA as they are still working on an America-specific trial on the jabs.

AstraZeneca has asked the US to consider giving the doses to other countries who are already rolling out the jabs but President Biden has so far refused.

Fianna Fail MEP Billy Kelleher urged Taoiseach Micheal Martin to raise the subject with the US President when they meet virtually next week as part of the annual St Patrick’s Day tradition.

Asked about the reports about AstraZeneca jabs lying idle in the U.S., the Taoiseach said that he had spoken to European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and she said she has been told “many narratives” about the AstraZeneca story.


When questioned on whether he would ask U.S President Joe Biden for vaccine help, the Taoiseach said: “We will have a discussion about Covid and and vaccines with the President of course we will have that discussion.

“The focus will be on the relationship between Europe and the U.S. because that is a key relationship because of course different stages of the vaccine development can happen both in Europe and in the U.S.

“We’re both interdependent in terms of component parts, in terms of the substance being exported from Europe and so on and visa versa.

“So there is an ongoing discussion between Europe and the U.S. and it’s in that context I will have that discussion as well with the American President.”

President Biden this week promised that all US citizens would be offered their first vaccine dose by May 1 as he claimed America would start to return to normal by Independence Day on July 4.

Health Minister Stephen Donnelly revealed that he spoke with Ireland’s country rep for AstraZeneca and explained Ireland’s deep frustration with the company’s delivery chaos.


AstraZeneca has repeatedly left Ireland short of tens of thousands of doses on already agreed orders with little or no notice for the HSE.

Minister Donnelly said the company is experiencing production issues with the supply chains for compounds that go into making the jabs.

The company rep told the Health Minister that they will do everything they can to fix the issues and committed to delivering Ireland’s full orders – but failed to provide concrete delivery dates.

Tensions between the EU and AstraZeneca ramped up again today after leaked documents showed the drug company plans to delivery just 30 million doses to Europe by the end of March – 10 million less than expected.

The document, dated March 10th, says that the drug company would deliver 30.1 million doses to the EU by the end of the month and a further 20 million in April.

The EU had initially signed a contract with AstraZeneca to receive 90 million doses in the first three months of the year but this has been repeatedly revised downwards to the current aim of just 30.1 million.


Meanwhile, Ireland’s National immunisation Advisory Committee has decided to widen the gap between AstraZeneca doses from four weeks out to between eight to 12 weeks.

The decision follows a similar move in the UK and will see more people receive their first jab quicker.

Chair of NIAC Prof Karina Butler said international evidence shows that the first jab provides up to 80 per cent protection from the virus and widening the gap between the second injection provides greater immunity for longer.

NIAC have also recommended the continuing use of the AstraZeneca jab despite countries such as Iceland, Austria and Denmark pausing their roll out following reports of blot clots in a small number of recipients.

Prof Butler said they will keep the situation under review and claimed the EMA has carried out an initial inspection and advised that the jabs can continue to be rolled out.

It comes as new research carried out for the Department of Taoiseach shows that compliance with the Covid restrictions on social gatherings is starting to slip.


In a survey carried out by the ERSI, more than one quarter of people confessed to meeting up with three or more people outside of their household group.

A further one quarter claimed they had met up with one or two people who are not in their household bubble.

Some 50 per cent said they had not met up with anyone from outside their household in a 48 hour period before they took the survey.

The research is commissioned by the Government as part of a social activity measure to monitor the public’s response to restrictions and the impact of the pandemic.

The survey is carried out every two weeks with the latest data from the last week of February showing compliance is starting to slip.


The ESRI warned there has been a modest increase in social activity, a small increase in the number of people taking journeys outside their homes and a modest increase in close contacts.

The data also shows an increase in the number of non-essential workers no longer working from home with 25.7 per cent of those surveyed claiming to have left their home for work.

It comes as the National Public Health Emergency Team’s chief modelling expert Prof Philip Nolan warned that Ireland is in a “very precarious position” and urged people not to “squander the sacrifice” made so far by returning to workplaces and mixing with others.