The Social Democrats have called on the Government to demonstrate moral leadership by backing the campaign for an intellectual property rights waiver on the production of vaccines.

Holly Cairns TD, who is the party’s spokesperson for Social Justice, said:

“While the Irish response to the devastating humanitarian crisis unfolding in India is welcome, the real solution to the Covid-19 emergency is to allow the global production of vaccines, regardless of a country’s wealth.

“It was hoped that the pandemic would lead to a new international solidarity. However, to date, the EU, United States and others have refused to allow a waiver on vaccine patents.

“The TRIPS waiver, as it is referred to, would allow countries in the global south to produce the vaccine themselves and accelerate their vaccination programmes. It is sickening to think this is not happening.

“This Friday, a World Trade Organisation meeting will decide on the issue. We need an assurance from the Taoiseach that he will fight for the waiving of intellectual property rights on vaccines to help save lives. It is time for Ireland to take strong moral leadership on this issue.”

Gary Gannon TD, the party’s spokesperson for Foreign Affairs, said:

“It was India, along with South Africa and several other countries, that brought forward the Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) waiver before the World Trade Organisation to ensure vaccine justice and equity for low and middle-income countries.

“The richest nations account for 16 percent of the global population but hold 53 percent of all purchased coronavirus vaccine doses. To date, the Government’s focus has been on COVAX, the global Covid-19 vaccine mechanism. But even if COVAX were to be fully funded this year, it would still vaccinate only 20-25% of the population of the world’s 92 poorest countries.

“At the current rate, these countries may not reach 60% coverage until 2023 or later. We need to act on the principle that no one is safe until everyone is safe. The focus should be on protecting people and saving lives – not profit.

“Ireland needs to lead on this by backing the TRIPS waiver ahead of the WTO meeting this week.”

April 28, 2021

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