Access to vaccines

 

A chara, – I wish to express my full support for the content of your editorial “On the basis of need, not wealth: race for a vaccine” (November 24th) and highlight that an EU-wide citizens’ initiative called Right2Cure is being introduced on November 30th, the eve of World Aids Day.

This European Citizens’ Initiative petition has been recently approved by the European Commission, and an international steering committee has been established with the hope of achieving one million signatures from across the EU member states.

We have been working with concerned citizens from across Europe to ensure that there can be no profit on pandemics and that nobody, regardless of location or means, is deprived of a vaccine, cure or treatment.

Researchers around the world are working to develop vaccines and treatments and are often using public money to assist in their research. Therefore, we believe that patents should not be allowed to limit the rapid accessibility of vaccines and treatments for all who wish to avail of them. The Right2Cure campaign wants to ensure guaranteed access to Covid-related diagnostics, therapeutics and vaccines.

Big pharmaceutical companies should not profit from this pandemic at the expense of people’s health. In the 1990s, multinational drug companies used patents for HIV treatments in order to charge exorbitant prices for their products. Millions of lives were lost.

The South African government, led by Nelson Mandela, overrode patents making use of compulsory licensing, and gave way to affordable and quality generic equivalents.

I would encourage everyone to sign this European Citizens’ Initiative as we must ensure that public health comes before private profit. – Is mise,

CHRIS MacMANUS MEP,

Sinn Féin,

European Parliament,

Brussels.

Sir, – With reference to Finn McRedmond’s column “Brexit has emboldened casual anti-Englishness among the Irish” (Opinion & Analysis, November 19th), I fully concur.

The way in which a vast and varied country, with a strong liberal and internationalist streak, is caricatured as being simply the more extreme parts of the Conservative Party has been disheartening.

Instead of trying to understand what has brought us to this stage, there’s almost an element of schadenfreude, together with a strong hint of superiority in some of what is said and written in Ireland.

Thus it was with great pleasure that I read your coverage of the Oxford vaccine, and in particular the input of Irish nationals in its success. Unlike most other Covid vaccination projects, here is a British educational institution and company undertaking to provide this vaccine at cost to the poorer countries of the world.

Rather than dwelling on the negatives of our nearest neighbour, whatever happens with Brexit, the UK is still an economic powerhouse, home to some of the best universities in the world, and a creative powerhouse, all of which continue to benefit the Irish nation and people.

While I am a saddened pro-European at the present state of affairs, it is worth remembering that these binding links can continue and flourish no matter what the EU relationship with the UK after December 31. – Yours, etc,

DAVID CLARKE,

Edinburgh.