“The COVID-19 pandemic is one of the biggest tests Ireland and the world has ever faced. As vaccines become more widely available, we now have the means to overcome it, but we must act together and show global solidarity. Making COVID-19 vaccines as widely available as possible is not a choice, it is a moral obligation that we have to each other. Ireland needs to show leadership and resolve by insisting that this vaccine technology is available to all.” – Suzanne Keatinge, CEO, Dóchas and letter co-signatory
Today, a coalition of Irish organisations, networks and Unions, wrote an open letter to Taoiseach Micheál Martin urgently requesting Ireland’s support for proposals to allow Covid-19 vaccine technology be shared openly through an emergency waiver at the World Trade Organisation. This emergency waiver would allow more vaccines and treatments to be produced on a global scale.
The letter, coordinated by Oxfam Ireland and signed by Access to Medicine Ireland, ActionAid, Amnesty, Comlamh, Concern, Dóchas, Goal, the Irish Global Health Network, INMO, MSF and Trócaire, details how the EU’s current position threatens the prospects of ending the Covid-19 pandemic. Namely, by blocking the “Waiver from Certain Provisions of the TRIPS Agreement for the Prevention, Containment and Treatment of Covid-19” – that is supported by more than 100 nations at the World Trade Organisation (WTO).
The current limits to global Covid-19 vaccine supplies could result in some countries having to wait until at least 2023 for mass immunisation, meaning all countries and populations are at greater risk of new variants developing which current Covid-19 vaccines may not remedy. The coalition warns that without united global action, the Covid-health crisis, and resulting economic fallout and disruption will continue to have grave effects here in Ireland and worldwide.
The Coalition stated that:
“Such global inequity is not only a catastrophic moral failure that will lead to needless suffering and loss of life. Ongoing outbreaks anywhere mean greater risk of new variants developing against which vaccines are not effective and/or that can evade the antibodies developed by survivors. There simply is no way to defeat Covid-19 in Ireland without united action worldwide."
“Ireland has a well-deserved reputation of supporting the human rights of the world’s poorest people. We are respected for our constructive engagement, acknowledging the importance of collective efforts amongst states for the problems that pay no heed to borders, such as the coronavirus pandemic. With so many of the world’s poorer nations supporting this emergency waiver already, you can help maintain Ireland’s moral and public health leadership in the world by siding with the majority to prioritise saving lives. Indeed, not doing so is self-defeating, as it is clear that the sooner the world’s population is vaccinated, the sooner EU citizens are safe.
"Thus, we respectfully request that you break with the unconscionable policies the EU has supported before the next WTO General Council meeting of March 1-2 and announce that Ireland will no longer support opposition to the temporary, emergency Covid-19 WTO waiver of certain TRIPS provisions.”