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Vaccine supply Taoiseach says US ‘does not have stockpile of Covid vaccines to distribute to other countries’

Micheal Martin said the US president hopes to know by summer whether they will have excess supply of vaccines.

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Taoiseach Micheal Martin (Julien Behal Photography/PA)

Taoiseach Micheal Martin (Julien Behal Photography/PA)

Taoiseach Micheal Martin (Julien Behal Photography/PA)

Taoiseach Micheal Martin has said US does not have a “stockpile” of Covid-19 vaccines to distribute to other countries.

Mr Martin said President Joe Biden hopes to know by the summer “where they will be” when it comes to a potential excess supply of coronavirus vaccines, and it would be at that point the US could look at helping other countries.

The Irish premier made the comments at Government Buildings in Dublin following an online meetings with the US president and other US leaders on St Patrick’s Day.

The Taoiseach said the US and Ireland are facing similar logistical challenges when it comes to vaccines.

“Like every other country, he [Mr Biden] is very anxious to get his people vaccinated as quickly as he possibly can and to have a sufficiency of vaccines to do that,” Mr Martin said.

“Both the president and the vice president understand that we need a global vaccination programme to defeat this virus,” he added.

“I raised the issue of supply chains in terms of the necessity to keep supply chains open in terms of the different component parts that make up the vaccine.

“It was a good discussion on that and I think there will be ongoing engagement between the US and Europe, and other countries as well, in relation to that.”

Mr Martin added: “[The President] said they would know where they are towards the summer about where they will be in terms of sufficiency of vaccines.”

“He was interested in the AstraZeneca story.”

“I shared the narrative with him in terms of explaining what has happened, both on the production side and in respect of recent decisions by the regulatory authorities across Europe and the EMA coming to a conclusion on all that tomorrow,” he said.

“His main focus right now is on getting his own people vaccinated, just like every country is.”

Asked whether he asked Mr Biden outright if the US would give vaccines to Ireland, Mr Martin replied: “He doesn’t necessarily have a stockpile.

“He wants to find out whether he will in time have a sufficiency of vaccines for his own people.”

Asked about supply lines of vaccines, Mr Martin also said he was not in favour of blocking supply lines to the UK and that instead there should be “proper engagement” between the UK and EU to work out a resolution.

“In terms of supply of AstraZeneca, it’s Europe that has lost out,” he said.

“I think [AstraZeneca] know that they have a bit of ground to make up in terms of meeting their obligations to Europe,” he added.

“Overall there’s a danger to getting into banning exports overall.

“I don’t personally like blocking – but I will articulate my views at EU [leaders] Council.”

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