May 11, 2022
Oireachtas Committee hears of need for TRIPS waiver for Covid-19 vaccine – Louise O’Reilly TD

Speaking after a meeting of the Committee on Enterprise, Trade, and Employment, Sinn Féin TD Louise O’Reilly, called on the Tánaiste to finally heed advice and calls from international civil society organisations, including Médecins Sans Frontières, Oxfam, Amnesty International, Trócaire and Christian Aid, and commit to, and push for, a TRIPS waiver for the Covid-19 vaccine.

Teachta O’Reilly said:

“Unfortunately, with only 13% of people double vaccinated in low- and middle-income countries, and with only 1% boosted, we face a significant global problem.

“If we really believe the mantra that ‘nobody is safe until everybody is safe’, then we must act and act urgently. 

“If we fail to act now, then we will not be prepared for the next pandemic or outbreak, and low- and middle-income countries will be left behind once again.

“The HIV/AIDS epidemic showed us the way – there was no real and significant progress until medicines were made freely available and, as a result, millions of lives were lost due to lack of access.

“It was clear at today’s hearing that action is needed to ensure that both vaccines and treatments are made available worldwide.

“The pharmaceutical companies focused on the need to invest, however, representatives from Médecins Sans Frontières and Oxfam were clear – given that much of the investment to date has been through public money, it is the public, globally, who should be the beneficiaries.

“The Tánaiste sits on the Council of Ministers of Trade and he can, and should, use any influence he has to encourage the introduction of a Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) waiver on Covid-19 vaccines and technology.

“Such a waiver would allow for negotiation at local level for the temporary suspension of intellectual property rights and ensure people in low- and middle-income countries have access to the Covid-19 vaccine.

“We can and should be leaders on this important issue.”

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