Oxfam Ireland urges Tánaiste Leo Varadkar to support full TRIPS waiver as nearly 30,000 people have died every day from Covid-19 since TRIPS waiver first proposed

Oxfam Ireland urges Tánaiste Leo Varadkar to support full TRIPS waiver as nearly 30,000 people have died every day from Covid-19 since TRIPS waiver first proposed

A majority of the Irish public, the Seanad and the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Enterprise, Trade and Employment are in favour of a temporarily waiving intellectual property rights for COVID-19 vaccines, therapeutics and diagnostics (known as the TRIPS waiver). The TRIPS waiver would facilitate the local production of Covid-19 vaccines, tests and treatments in low and middle-income countries.

Nearly 30,000 people have died every day from Covid-19 since WTO talks on a TRIPS waiver began back in 2020. 81 per cent of people in Ireland have gotten two doses of the Covid-19 vaccine compared to less than 13 per cent of people in low-income countries. The waiver is necessary to address these grave inequities and prevent further death and illness amongst those in the global south.

For more than a year, vaccines were not available and once supplies began, they were sporadic and too often delivered too close to expiry to be used in full. This has limited countries’ ability to plan effective vaccine rollouts. Furthermore, it has undermined trust between the EU and countries in Africa.

The IP waiver was proposed in October 2020 and is supported by over 100 countries; however it is still being blocked by the EU, the UK, and Switzerland. In recent months, the public, the Seanad, the Joint Committee on Enterprise, Trade and Employment as well as leading thinkers in Ireland including Mary Robinson, President Michael D. Higgins, and 350 Irish experts have called for a TRIPS waiver. This call is being ignored by the Irish Government and is resulting in the needless loss of life.

The public and other government bodies are urging the Irish Government to use our influence in the EU to advocate for a TRIPS waiver. Next week, the World Trade Organisation will hold a ministerial conference at which the TRIPS waiver will be up for negotiation. Ireland will be sending representatives to this meeting. However, Ireland is ignoring calls for a full TRIPS waiver. This will result in many more unnecessary deaths. Low-income countries cannot afford to wait any longer.

If you are interested in hearing more about the vaccine inequity, you can watch a conference Oxfam Ireland co-hosted here.

If you would like to email your TD’s to urge the government to support a TRIPS waiver, you can find an email template here.

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