Global Access to Covid-19 Vaccines

Mon, Mar 15, 2021

Read in 2 minutes

Last week Ireland and the European Union blocked a push before the World Trade Organisation – lead mostly by developing countries – to waive patent rights for Covid-19 vaccines. A move by developing countries aimed at boosting global production.

Global Access to Covid-19 Vaccines

Ireland’s opposition on this waiver is disappointing, it risks exacerbating the divide between richer countries and others, and risks preventing the affordable access to Covid-19 vaccines around the world. Any waiver would have been temporary and only remained in place until most of the world had been vaccinated against Covid-19. We will need global solidarity in order to suppress this pandemic, and there will need to be a global exchange of knowledge and technology in order to achieve this.

According to Oxfam Ireland, “this waiver would override the monopolies held by pharmaceutical companies during the pandemic and allow an urgently needed scale-up in the production of safe and effective Covid-19 vaccines to ensure all countries get access to the doses they need to protect their populations and join the economic recovery ahead.” Oxfam Ireland also produced a document to counter many of the arguments given for not supporting the vaccine waiver at the WTO.

I wrote to the Minister for Foreign Affairs to ask him to ensure that Ireland supports the temporary waiver of intellectual property rights at the WTO when the issue returns to the agenda in April. Ireland should support the lifting of intellectual property rights to allow global access to Covid-19 vaccines. We must now - more than ever - prioritise global public health over profits.