Global inequality and vaccines

 

Sir, – Mark Paul (“Let’s talk about acceptable Covid death rates before restrictions kick in”, Business Opinion, October 22nd) calls for a national conversation on how to balance the value of a life saved against the economic and social costs of Covid restrictions. Given how uncomfortable and uncertain many of us are about the issue, it is not surprising that it has rarely been mentioned during the pandemic.

Global health inequality is another issue that has been thrown into relief by the pandemic and that only sporadically gets the attention it deserves. There has been little public discussion about the global health costs of giving booster shots in Ireland.

Perhaps your newspaper could further such a discussion by asking a scientist to calculate the expected lives saved per 100,000 vaccines administered as boosters to 60-70 year-olds in Ireland relative to the expected lives saved if the same number of vaccines were administered to, say, health workers in one of the 10 African countries where less than 1 per cent of the population is fully vaccinated. – Yours, etc,

ROBERT

CARROLL,

Dublin 6W.

Sir – So the National Immunisation Advisory Committee (Niac) eventually came to a decision to recommend Covid-19 booster jabs for the over-60s.

Hopefully, it will prove a little more agile in recommending the same for frontline health workers.

This is to be welcomed in view of Prof Kingston Mills, Prof Luke O’Neill and others pointing to growing international evidence of the waning effectiveness of vaccinations (especially for those of us at an age who were corralled into receiving AstraZeneca – don’t get me started).

However, your health editor, Paul Cullen, eloquently expresses the ethical dilemma of receiving a booster shot: “A third dose of vaccine in an Irish arm is a first dose denied to someone in the developing world” (“Coronavirus booster shots gain political traction”, News, October 19th).

Former UK prime minister Gordon Brown has also pointed out the self-interest in boosting developing world vaccinations, as failure to do so risks the emergence of deadly variants which could render our current vaccinations ineffective.

In order to try and square the circle, could I suggest that everyone who is fortunate enough by birth to receive a booster shot is at the same time handed an information leaflet encouraging a donation to buy a vaccination for a fellow human being in the developing world (eg through Unicef).

This would turn on its head the old promotional slogan of “Buy one – Get one free” to “Get one free – Buy one”. – Yours, etc,

RONNIE SIMPSON,

Bray,

Co Wicklow.