Leading medics and scientists request meeting with Taoiseach on TRIPS waiver in relation to Omicron fears

Leading medics and scientists request meeting with Taoiseach on TRIPS waiver in relation to Omicron fears

Over 400 leading doctors and scientists have issued a letter to An Taoiseach, Micheál Martin TD, requesting a meeting regarding vaccine inequity and the Omicron variant. A small representation from the Doctors for Vaccine Equity group, who are part of the People’s Vaccine Alliance in Ireland, and the Irish Society of Immunology presented the letter to the Taoiseach’s office today (09.12.2021).

This group of doctors and scientists is calling on the Government to work towards temporarily suspending patent rules on Covid-19 vaccines, tests and treatments in order to increase their  production and thereby , increase access in low- and middle-income countries. Signatories include Professor Kingston Mills, Professor Sam McConkey, Professor Cliona Ni Cheallaigh and Professor Luke O’Neill.

Speaking at the handover of the letter today, Dr Christine Kelly, founding member of Doctors for Vaccine Equity and an Infectious Diseases SpR and Honorary Clinical Fellow at UCD, said:

“Viral mutations occur when viruses replicate, meaning that the more virus is circulating in a population, the higher the risk of new mutations. Leaving large populations unvaccinated is increasing the risk of new variants, like we are seeing now with Omicron.”

Echoing Dr Kelly, Professor Cliona O’Farrelly, PhD, Professor of Comparative Immunology TCD, said: “It is becoming increasingly urgent to address the issue of vaccine inequity which is making sure these variants are a constant threat. This is why we are seeking a meeting with An Taoiseach Micheál Martin TD as a matter of urgency to ensure Ireland is working to support the TRIPS waiver which would allow greater access to vaccine technologies across the globe.

“Vaccine inequity is having a profound impact not just on people living in low-income countries who have little or no access to vaccines and vaccine technologies but is effecting everyone on the planet. Variants like Omicron will continue to threaten all health systems including our own here in Ireland, as we struggle to deal with increasing case numbers and our hospitals become too overwhelmed by Covid to cope with other sick patients.

“Vaccine inequity is a human rights issue, we have a moral obligation. We have the knowledge and strategies available to protect the lives of millions of people in low-income countries, particularly in the continent of Africa.

“We are urging the Government to adopt a global viewpoint in our handling of the pandemic – only though working to facilitate equitable access to vaccines will we be able to effectively bring the pandemic under control.”