Pfizer expressed concern to Taoiseach about EU restrictions on vaccine exports

Pharmaceutical company told Martin it would be vaccinating its own essential staff

The pharmaceutical company Pfizer expressed concern directly to Taoiseach Micheál Martin earlier this year about the possibility of the European Commission putting in place restrictions on exports of Covid-19 vaccines.

The company, in correspondence at the end of January, said, in essence, that one of the reasons it had such a large presence in Europe was due to support among countries for policies involving the free flow of goods and resilient global supply chains.

Pfizer employs about 3,700 staff in Ireland across a number of different facilities in Cork, Dublin and Kildare.

The company also told the Taoiseach in early January that it would be providing its Covid-19 vaccine to its own essential staff and contractors.


Newly-released official correspondence reveal that Pfizer wrote to Mr Martin on January 29th about its concerns that any European Commission move restrict exports of Covid-19 vaccines from the European Union could impact on global supply chains.

The company told the Taoiseach: "We are concerned that other countries could react by blocking essential material shipments to the EU which could disrupt our manufacturing in Belgium, just as we seek to scale up our capacity."

Pfizer said it was concerned “about any measure that would create any uncertainty about the EU’s commitment to respecting global supply chains”.

“Free flow of goods and resilient global supply chains are critical to the company. Europe’s long standing support for these policies is a key reason Pfizer has long maintained a large presence in the EU, including as a major exporter.”

Essential colleagues

The company also wrote to Mr Martin on January 6th, a couple of weeks after the European Medicines Agency had given conditional authorisation for the use of its Covid-19 vaccine.

It said in the spirit of transparency and collaboration, it wanted to inform the Taoiseach that from the following week it would begin to offer the vaccine to “site essential Pfizer colleagues at our sites in the EU”.

“These are colleagues and contractors whose presence is required at a Pfizer facility to ensure the supply of our medicines and vaccines, critical research and development programmes continue and to keep safe and secure our labs and buildings as defined by site management.”

The company told the Taoiseach that this process would be carried out on a rolling basis, based on the availability of the vaccine and its own Pfizer healthcare professional staff.

Pfizer said the process of vaccinating its own essential staff and contractors would not affect in any way the suppose of the Covid-19 vaccine to national governments under its agreement with the European Commission and member states.

Martin Wall

Martin Wall

Martin Wall is the former Washington Correspondent of The Irish Times. He was previously industry correspondent