Covid vaccine patents

Sir, – I refer to the letter (October 7th) by Bernard Mallee of the Irish Pharmaceutical Healthcare Association, which painted our response as not understanding the complexities of vaccine production. I am assuming that he has heard about the World Health Organisation (WHO) initiatives, Covid-19 Technology Access Pool (CTAP) and the mRNA-vaccine technology transfer hubs, created to facilitate the sharing of the specialised knowledge and technology that he refers to.

Would Mr Mallee say that the WHO does not understand the complexities of vaccine production or believe in simplistic narratives? The fact that not a single pharmaceutical company has voluntarily joined CTAP over a year later is why now we must rely on asking for redistribution of vaccines hoarded by rich countries, as an emergency stop-gap measure to try and save lives this year. It’s also why we must call for compulsory measures such as the Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights waiver.

This is an unprecedented human rights crisis and a historic public health emergency, not an opportunity to create yet more billionaires from pharmaceutical profit.

According to Airfinity, Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna’s forecasted revenue from the vaccines will be $130 billion by the end of 2022.


Mr Mallee should reflect on the fact that this is not the first time pharmaceutical companies have approached a public health emergency in this way. In the words of Winnie Byanyima, Executive Director of UNAIDS: “We cannot repeat the painful lessons from the early years of the Aids response, when people in wealthier countries got back to health, while millions of people in developing countries were left behind.” – Yours, etc,


Executive Director,

Amnesty International


Dublin 2.