Higgins demands Ireland supports waiver to allow developing countries manufacture Covid vaccines

‘The public have invested in these vaccines and they must now be treated as a public good’

Ireland must support an intellectual property rights waiver for Covid-19 vaccines at crucial WTO meeting as daily death toll escalates in India and Brazil

This is the view of Independent Senator Alice-Mary Higgins, who said there was “an urgent moral responsibility” on the Government to support the Trade and Intellectual Property Rules waiver and publicly press the European Commission to vote in favour of the waiver at the World Trade Organisation meeting tomorrow, Friday April 30.

Sen Alice Mary Higgins

The temporary TRIPS waiver would allow developing countries to manufacture and access Covid-19 vaccines. The move is supported by Oxfam, Goal, Trócaire and Médecins Sans Frontières, while a recent report from the Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs supported a TRIPS waiver and highlighted that lack of equity will prolong the epidemic. However it is opposed by the European Commission and the United States.

'A huge portion of the world’s population remains vulnerable to Covid-19. This provides ideal grounds for new variants of the virus to evolve. We are not safe until we are all safe'

The artificial scarcity of supply and the choice to limit the manufacture and supply of Covid-19 vaccines is aimed at protecting profits. Sen Higgins said the consequence of that choice can be seen in the daily death toll exceeding 2,000 in Brazil and India in recent days, with only one per cent of the Indian population vaccinated.

“When a huge portion of the world’s population remains vulnerable to Covid-19,” said Sen Higgins. “This provides ideal grounds for new variants of the virus to evolve and it is only a matter of time before those variants become vaccine resistant – we are not safe until we are all safe.

“The AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine received 97 per cent public funding. Moderna received majority public funding. Pfizer-BionTech received a half a billion from Germany alone. The public have invested in these vaccines and they must now be treated as a public good.”

Sen Higgins said “the test of the Irish Government will be whether they publicly call on the European Commission to support a TRIPS waiver” in advance of the crucial meeting on April 30. “This is a collective crisis on human rights and health and it needs a collective response,” she said. “The world will be watching.”

 

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