Waive patent protections for vaccines

 

Sir, – More than seven months after a temporary suspension of intellectual and patent rights on Covid-19 vaccines was proposed, negotiations on such a waiver have yet to begin. In the meantime, new waves of the virus and potentially more lethal variants emerge around the world.

The recent decision by the US administration to support the opening of such negotiations is welcome and provides significant momentum.

This call was echoed by Pope Francis last weekend when he described putting the laws of the market above human health as “a variant of this virus”.

We can take heart at the vaccine rollout in Ireland, which gives us hope of our lives returning to some form of normality. That same hope must be delivered to all countries, particularly the poorest countries where people’s livelihoods have been decimated by this pandemic. The poorest countries are being left behind. People are being plunged into extreme poverty by this virus with little hope of meaningful levels of vaccination on the horizon.

Waiving patent protections for Covid-19 vaccines could significantly ramp-up production and help to bring the pandemic under control in countries where vaccines have not yet been administered at any significant scale.

We have all seen the horrific scenes in India (which, alongside South Africa, were the co-sponsors of the waiver proposal last October) over recent weeks and there is a real concern that those scenes could be replicated elsewhere. We know the vaccines are effective, the task of global leaders is to ensure the quickest possible access for all, regardless of wealth.

The EU continues to stand in the way of opening negotiations on the waiver.

It is high time for Ireland to support the advancement of the proposal tabled by India and South Africa so many months ago.

Action on the waiver is urgently overdue. – Yours, etc,

CAOIMHE DE BARRA,

Chief Executive,

Trócaire,

Maynooth,

Co Kildare.