Dr. Mike Ryan of WHO and UNAIDS Director Winnie Byanyima launch Ireland’s People’s Vaccine Alliance

Dr. Mike Ryan of WHO and UNAIDS Director Winnie Byanyima launch Ireland’s People’s Vaccine Alliance

Dr. Mike Ryan of WHO and UNAIDS Director Winnie Byanyima launch Ireland’s People’s Vaccine Alliance

  • New Alliance call on Irish government to address global Covid-19 vaccine inequity crisis 
  • Irish organisations, health practitioners, trade unions, and activists unite for a People’s Vaccine 

 8 July 2021

Today, Irish organisations, health practitioners, trade unions and activists were joined by international guest speakers including Dr. Mike Ryan from the World Health Organisation and Winnie Byanyima of UNAIDS to officially launch the People’s Vaccine Alliance Ireland.

The diverse coalition came together united in their call on the Irish government to take a stand for fairness, equality, and global health by addressing global Covid-19 vaccine inequity crisis. The People’s Vaccine Alliance are asking Ireland to use its voice within the EU to support the TRIPS waiver and to endorse the World Health Organisation Covid Technology Access Pool to facilitate the sharing of know-how by Pharmaceutical companies to increase Covid-19 vaccine production. 

The TRIPS waiver is a mechanism at the World Trade Centre that would allow for the temporary suspension of intellectual property rights for Covid-19 vaccines, treatments and diagnostics. A measure that could help break Big Pharma monopolies and increase vaccine supplies so there are enough doses available for everyone, everywhere. 

The Alliance said: “Pharmaceutical company monopolies could leave countries in the Global South waiting years for widespread vaccination. This must change, so they too can protect their citizens. Not only is it the morally right thing to do, but in addition, until the vaccine is available worldwide, we risk the emergence and spread of new variants. Restricting vaccine supply to protect profits during the pandemic means all populations remain at further risk of health and economic shocks and crises.” 

Majo Rivas, a Paraguayan-Irish People's Vaccine activist said: “I began speaking up about the TRIPS waiver and global access to vaccines because I was worried for my loved ones. I just did what most people in my shoes would do. 

“But this isn't just about Paraguay. In the news, we see the funeral pyres in India, the overwhelmed health system in Uganda, more than 1,100 children under 10 have died of Covid-19 in Brazil. Each of them someone's loved one, someone's child, someone's friend. We cannot allow more people in the Global South to lose lives and livelihoods; we need a People's vaccine now.”

Winnie Byanyima, Executive Director of UNAIDS said: “Covid-19, like HIV and AIDS, is laying bare the underlying inequalities in our world and in our societies - inequalities that ultimately hurt all of us and threaten epidemic control and our long-term recovery efforts. Fixing them, however, is possible.

“As Covid continues to devastate countries, the choice our governments face today is to take lifesaving action or repeat tragic and avoidable mistakes that resulted in millions of lives needlessly lost at the height of the HIV epidemic because life-saving treatments remained out of reach for the people who needed them. I urge the Irish Government to reconsider their current position and support the TRIPS waiver - too many lives are at risk for them not to do so."

The Alliance concluded: "Ireland is in line to get 14 million doses of at least five different vaccines during 2021, more than enough to vaccinate our population of 4.9 million. To date, over four million doses have been administered in Ireland. This affords some degree of safety, protection and comfort in the face of rapidly spreading variants such as Delta, and emerging ones like Lambda. But to truly defeat Covid-19 in Ireland, united action worldwide is required. 

"Governments and not-for-profit organisations have contributed tens of billions of Euros to the development of Covid-19 vaccines. In 2021 alone, sales of Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson and Johnson vaccines are expected to yield €50 billion.  

"To produce sufficient vaccines for everyone globally, manufacturing capacity must be greatly increased; over 140 sites have been identified as having unused manufacturing potential including large reputable pharmaceutical companies such as Biolyse in Canada, Incepta in Bangladesh, Teva in Israel and Bavarian Nordic in Denmark - all of whom have asked to assist in the manufacture of vaccines.  

"For this to happen, pharmaceutical companies must agree to share their know-how and all suitable qualified vaccine manufacturers must be permitted to produce vaccines free from patents.

"Members of our Alliance have decades of experience of how best to facilitate access to life saving medicines and vaccines in low-income countries during global pandemics. We reiterate our previous calls on the Irish government to meet with us in relation to their current position on the TRIPS waiver as a matter of urgency."   

For more information, please visit http://peoplesvaccine.ie 

ENDS 

Contact  

Caroline Reid | Oxfam Ireland | 087 912 3165 | caroline.reid@oxfam.org

Jo-Ann Ward | ActionAid Ireland | 087 768 6289 | jo-ann.ward@actionaid.org

Notes to the Editor 

  • People's Vaccine Alliance Members are available for interview.
  • Audio-visual clips from guest speakers Dr. Mike Ryan and Winnie Byanyima will be available after the event upon request. Contact caroline.reid@oxfam.org to request access.

The People’s Vaccine Alliance Ireland is coordinated by: Access to Medicines Ireland, ActionAid Ireland, Amnesty International Ireland, AMRI, Comhlamh, Christian Aid Ireland, GOAL, Friends of the Earth Ireland, ICCL, Irish General Practice Nurses Educational Association, Irish Global Health Network, Oxfam Ireland, Plan International Ireland and Trócaire.  

The people’s Vaccine Alliance Ireland’s Demands:  

  1. Ireland must use its voice within the EU to support the TRIPS waiver - Call on governments to temporarily suspend intellectual property rights at the World Trade Organisation for Covid-19 vaccines, treatments and diagnostics. This will help break Big Pharma monopolies and increase supplies so there are enough doses for everyone, everywhere. For more info, click here and here.  
  2. Ireland must endorse the World Health Organisation (WHO) COVID Technology Access Pool (C-TAP) to facilitate the sharing of know-how by Pharmaceutical companies to increase vaccine production. For more info click here.  

Frequently asked questions about Vaccine equity

The People’s Vaccine Alliance launch was supported by:  

  • Dr Mike Ryan, Executive Director, WHO Health Emergencies Programme
  • Isabel Simpson, Executive Director, Médecins Sans Frontières Ireland   
  • Majo Rivas, Paraguayan-Irish People's Vaccine activist  
  • Mustaqeem De Gama, South African Permanent Mission to the WTO in relation to the TRIPS waiver
  • Senator Alice-Mary Higgins, Irish Independent Politician 
  • Winnie Byanyima, Executive Director of UNAIDS 
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