March 16, 2022
“Breakthrough in TRIPS Waiver negotiations demands Irish government support” – Chris MacManus MEP

“Breakthrough in TRIPS Waiver negotiations demands Irish government support” – Chris MacManus MEP

“I welcome the news that a first compromise has been reached on a TRIPS Waiver on Covid-19 vaccines, and call on the Irish government to vocally and wholeheartedly support this important breakthrough,” said Chris MacManus, Sinn Féin MEP for the Midlands Northwest. “While there are some notable omissions from the compromise, after months of stalling the EU is finally ready to concede that intellectual property laws have posed a barrier to global vaccine equity. The government must make it unequivocally clear that Ireland supports this move.”

“The EU, US, South Africa and India have reached a compromise that would allow developing countries to produce, use and export patented Covid-19 vaccines without the consent of the patent-holder. This is much broader than the compulsory licencing process previously promoted by the EU, as it allows patent waivers through a variety of legal instruments that can apply to all the different patents linked to a vaccine. This will allow developing countries to ramp up vaccine production and export vaccines to neighbouring countries, addressing the regional supply gaps that have led to extremely unbalanced global vaccine distribution.” 

“There are some gaps in the agreement as well,” said MacManus. “Notably, it only applies to Covid-19 vaccines, and not to any medical treatments that may be developed in the future. And while it allows for the waiving of patent rights, it leaves trade secrets (the technical know-how to produce the vaccines) intact. However, after 18 months of delays, and millions of deaths, it is hugely significant that the EU is finally ready to agree to a TRIPS Waiver, even an imperfect version.”

“The deal is not yet done, as the text must be finalised and approved by the other WTO members, and by the EU’s Member States. Representatives from national trade ministries saw the outline of the text at a Council meeting this week. In discussions with his counterparts, the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment must express Ireland’s support for this compromise, and push for any improvements that can be made. The TRIPS Waiver has the support of the thousands of Irish people who have signed the European Citizens’ Initiative ‘No Profit on Pandemic’. The initiative is supported by development aid NGOs, civil society organisations, religious groups, student representatives and trade unions – a broad spectrum of Irish society all calling for justice in global vaccine access. We all have the right to a cure, no matter where we live or how wealthy our economy may be.”

MacManus concluded, “I call on the government to finally take a decisive stance in favour of the TRIPS Waiver, and to emphatically support this compromise in discussions with EU trade ministers in the Council. I also urge people all across Ireland to keep up the pressure on the European Commission by adding their names to the ‘No Profit on Pandemic’ petition on”  ENDS

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