April 1, 2020
Domestic production of COVID-19 tests needed now – Louise O’Reilly TD & Darren O’Rourke TD

Sinn Féin TDs Louise O’Reilly and Darren O’Rourke have called for Ireland’s pharmaceutical sector to be fully utilised to produce COVID-19 testing kits and materials now.

Their comments come as a global shortage of extraction material used in the testing process is resulting in significant delays and limitations on testing here.

Speaking this evening, Deputy O’Reilly said;

ʺIn recent days it has become evident that a lack of reagent used in the COVID-19 testing process, has led to a significant delay for patients receiving test results, and a significantly lower number of people being tested each day, than was previously planned.

ʺDespite previously setting a target of 15,000 tests per day, only about 10% of that is now being realised here.

ʺThere is an international shortage of extraction material used in the testing process, causing significant disruption to testing for COVID-19 across the globe, including here in Ireland.

ʺAs the COVID-19 crisis grows day on day, the international demand on this material is only going to increase, putting significant pressure on the testing regime here.

ʺDr Cillian de Gascun has said that the extraction material, which is used to extract the viral RNA in the testing process, is proprietary meaning strict patent laws govern who can and cannot manufacture it. The lack of it, is now causing delays here.”

Teachta O’Rourke said;

ʺThe government need to urgently engage with pharmaceutical companies that are located in Ireland, with a view to developing test kits for use here domestically, as the international market clearly cannot meet the demand required. All options, including the compulsory licensing of intellectual property, should be considered in an effort to maximise production.

ʺIreland has a world-renowned and long-established pharmaceutical sector, with the top 10 pharmaceutical companies operating here, and this needs to be utilised fully.

ʺWe have thousands of highly skilled workers in this sector, and there is no reason we shouldn’t be able to manufacture COVID-19 testing kits and materials here.

ʺAbbott Laboratories have announced a rapid COVID-19 test which they intend to roll out in the United States. Abbott employs 3,000 people here in Ireland, across 9 sites, and the government need to engage with this company to see if production and supply of these new tests can begin here too.

ʺWe cannot sit by and hope the international market deliver the materials needed at some stage in the future. We need domestic production of COVID-19 tests and materials now.”

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